How do I improve shallow soil over clay?

by Tracker
(Dunsborough WA)

We are trying to start a veg patch at our new place. The soil is grey hydrophobic dust on top and then compacted clay from about 2inches down. I'm trying to break up the clay bit by bit but would love suggestions on what to add to the clay to keep it broken up and the dusty parts to make it all a yummy soil the worms and veggies will love. We have a compost tumbler currently brewing, worm farm plodding away, never ending supply of dry and decaying marri leaves and chicken poo from the chooks to access.


MEG: REGULAR ADDITION OF LOTS OF ORGANIC MATERIAL - EG MANURE, COMPOST, HAY ESP LUCERNE OR PEA, A COVER CROP - WILL IMPROVE ANY SOIL. GYPSUM WORKED IN WILL HELP BREAK THE CLAY UP. USE A WETTING AGENT ON THE TOPSOIL. MIGHT BE BEST TO AVOID THE MARRI LEAVES AS THEY MAY ADD HYDROPHOBIC WAXES TO THE SOIL (ANYONE OUT THERE TRIED IT?) BUT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO BREAK THEM DOWN OK IN COMPOST AND USE THAT.

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Jul 21, 2016
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Marri Leaves in compost, Chickens making soil
by: Tony

I have found that the best way to break down Marri leaves (and other Eucalyptus leaves) is to put them in with chickens, who scratch them in, poop on them and break them down in short time.
Chickens will transform most matter into soil over a few years, this includes clay, gravel and sand. All you need to do is keep adding vegetable material and to ensure that the area remains well drained. The addition of more sand will assist in improving drainage.
Plant green feed crops for the chickens (spent birdseed usually has plenty of viable seeds in it), then let the chickens feed on it and scratch it in.
Note, this is not adequate balanced diet for chickens and must be supplemented with a balanced feed.

Jan 23, 2014
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straw bale gardening
by: gnasher

If you want to grow something and add to your soil fertility,investigate,"straw bale gardening", you can grow a garden on the pavement if you really want to.

[MEG: ALONG SIMILAR LINES IS ESTHER DEAN'S NO-DIG GARDEN METHOD)

May 24, 2013
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Raised beds
by: Allen

Hi you could try using raised beds then you can start with good soil - eventually the good stuff will spread down into the soil under the raised beds this will solve most of your problem.I use raised beds and have unbelievable crops year after year just make sure you apply fresh compost and mulch once a year. This will stop moisture loss and will break down to feed the plants over time.

[MEG - THANKS ALLEN. AND DON'T USE MUSHROOM COMPOST. IT IS OFTEN FULL OF FUNGICIDES AND PESTICIDES AND JUST DOES NOT NOURISH PLANTS]

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