Clay soil can be challenging in the garden but there are actually some vegetables that can tolerate—or even benefit from—these growing conditions.This list from the book High Value Veggies by Mel Bartholomew is provided by Cool Springs Press.Other root crops, like daikon radishes and potatoes, help to break up a heavy clay soil.Heavy clay soils are slow to warm, so planting early spring crops may not be possible.This list comes from the book, High Value Veggies by Mel Bartholomew, author of the popular Square Foot Gardening series.Cauliflower does best in nutrient-rich soil so be sure to add compost or another fertilizer like fish emulsion on a regular basis.It doesn’t matter where you garden—in a community plot, in containers, in raised beds, or straw bales, or in a Square Foot Garden—deciding which edibles to plant is perhaps the biggest factor in whether or not your garden succeeds.While success means many things to many gardeners, there’s no getting around the issue of cost versus payback.Does it make sense to spend $5 and use up three feet of garden space to grow one cabbage when you can buy a beautiful one at the farmer’s market for $2?The book, High-Value Veggies, evaluates 59 of the most common home garden vegetables to determine which edible crops give you the biggest bang for your buck.• Leaf Mold | Decomposed fall leaves beneficial to soil structure.I’m not talking the clay-like soil that many gardeners have, but pure, ready-for-the-pottery-studio, dense, unforgiving, relentless, clay.The problem was, when you’re starting out as a gardener, it’s very hard to know when the challenges are caused by your own lack of knowledge or the conditions themselves.I spent the first few years assuming I was the problem rather than the unaccommodating evils of a pit of clay.I tried everything short of frantic dances to entice the gods of soil quality, but, after splitting a few shovel handles in half just trying to dig holes, it gradually dawned on me that my clay situation was unsual.My daughter making a pottery tea set from our garden soil was the final tipping point. .

Do You Need to Plant Spinach in Sand?

But spinach can grow in dense soils as long as you manage the moisture content by allowing for drainage or mix in some compost to break up the density.Too much acid in the soil leads to yellow or brown leaves, poor root structure and dying plants.Most garden centers sell home pH test kits that can help you determine whether your soil needs lime. .

Growing Vegetables in Clay Soil

Like other extreme types of soil, tight clay can be radically improved with regular infusions of organic matter and thoughtful handling.I respect clay soil's needs and quirks, and it pays me back with a fun and fruitful garden.If you can easily shape a handful of moist soil into a ball that holds together nicely, you probably have clay.Clay soils will settle into layers of fine sediment that feel like gloppy mud, and the water will take hours to clear.Here mulches can help, because they act as shock absorbers during heavy rains, and host earthworms, which replenish air to tight soils with their constant tunneling activities.When I must venture into a dripping garden to harvest veggies for dinner, I walk on broad boards placed in the pathways.Lettuce, chard, snap beans and other crops with shallow roots benefit from clay soil's ability to retain moisture, and broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage often grow better in clay soil than looser loams because their roots enjoy firm anchorage.Mid and late season sweet corn are a good choice, too, but some of the best vegetables to grow in clay are squash and pumpkins. .

Growing Spinach Successfully - Grit

Photo by Susy Morris 5 / 9 Cold frames and low tunnels help spinach overwinter in some regions.Photo by Susy Morris 6 / 9 Growing spinach in your own garden means it's always ready for a quick meal.Photo by Susy Morris 8 / 9 Fresh spinach leaves can be used to make bright and flavorful pesto.Photo by Susy Morris 9 / 9 Spinach is able to survive hard frosts, and cool weather even improves flavor.Spinach has the reputation of being a finicky crop, but it can be grown easily and successfully with attention to a few key details.Perhaps our childhood memories of slimy canned spinach are what gives this veggie a bad rap and makes us reluctant to grow it in the garden.I’m guessing it has more to do with its tendency to bolt (send up a tall stalk to produce seeds) as soon as the temperatures warm up and the days get longer.For most gardeners, spinach can be seeded and harvested before lettuce, not to mention its leaves are sweeter and more tender when grown in colder weather.Thus, hot days and more hours of daylight increase the likelihood of bolting and bitterness, particularly if it was seeded or transplanted when the weather was still really cold.Plant in fall, winter and spring depending on your climate, and leave the hot summer season for the crops that love the heat.Spinach does not need full sun, and in fact, planting it in a shady corner of the garden will help keep it from bolting as quickly.Water spinach regularly, as the stress of dry soil encourages it to flower and set seed.A little compost or light fertilizer mixed into the soil at planting time, and watering once during the growing season with a liquid kelp solution, is all spinach will need to thrive.We live in an era of choice, especially when it comes to varieties of vegetables to grow in our gardens, so take full advantage of the options available to you.While heirlooms are appealing, newer hybrids will most likely increase your chances of success when growing spinach, especially when it comes to warmer weather or overwintering.Tyee produces a good fall crop, and Space from Johnny’s Selected Seeds is great for early and late plantings.If you have dry, lean soil or live in an extremely hot area, don’t give up growing spinach altogether.In order to have spinach over a long season, continue to plant fresh seed in the garden or in flats every 10 to 14 days.If you have a flush of it, cook, puree and freeze in ice cube trays to add extra nutrition to soups, stews.Susy Morris is a Maine-based blogger, photographer, and hobby farmer who loves to try new things and experiment with different techniques to make her farm and garden more sustainable. .

Know Your Garden Soil: How to Make the Most of Your Soil Type

There are six main soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky and loamy.Clay soil feels lumpy and is sticky when wet and rock hard when dry.Sandy soil warms up fast in spring and tends to hold fewer nutrients as these are often washed away during wetter spells.Vegetable root crops like carrots, parsnips and potatoes favour sandy soils.Lettuce, strawberries, peppers, corn, squash, zucchini, collard greens and tomatoes are grown commercially in sandy soils.Silty soil feels soft and soapy, it holds moisture, is usually very rich in nutrients.Mixing in composted organic matter is usually needed to improve drainage and structure while adding nutrients.Peat soil is great for growth when blended with rich organic matter, compost and lime to reduce the acidity.The soil is alkaline in nature which sometimes leads to stunted growth and yellowish leaves – this can be resolved by using appropriate fertilizers and balancing the pH.Great for: Trees, bulbs and shrubs such as Lilac, Weigela, Madonna lilies, Pinks, Mock Oranges.Loamy soil, a relatively even mix of sand, silt and clay, feels fine-textured and slightly damp.Loamy soils require replenishing with organic matter regularly, and tend to be acidic. .

All About Spinach

Spinach is one of the few vegetables with beets and chard that prefers a neutral to alkaline soil (pH 7.0 or above).Spinach thrives in cool weather and short days so it's best to grow it in the fall for most gardeners.Northern gardeners can plant an early spring crop followed by another in midsummer to mature before the first hard freeze.It was introduced into Europe about 1000 AD It wasn't until after the eighteenth century that it began to be cultivated in the Netherlands, France and England with the Spanish eventually bringing it to the Americas.If its still too hot use hoops made from 1/2 inch polyethylene irrigation tubing to lift the row cover off of the small seedlings.Working 2-4 inches of compost into the soil prior to planting is always a good idea and while you're at it incorporate 2 pounds of a complete fertilizer per 100 square feet.Ammonium sulfate at 2 tablespoons per foot of row should keep the spinach producing all season long if applied every two weeks or as needed.Supply lots of moisture and cool the soil (especially with late summer plantings) and don't be shy about fertilizing.Use one of the biological worm sprays (Bacillus thuringiensis) to take out these pests without hazard to people, pets and beneficial insects.White rust, blue mold (downy mildew) and the soil-borne disease fusarium wilt are the primary pests in this category.Where this disease is a common problem, as it is in many areas of the South, check with the Extension Service for recommended fungicides.It's also great sautŽed with a little bacon grease, green onion and a vinegar hot pepper sauce. .

How to Plant and Grow Tomatoes in Clay Soil

I’ve taken this approach and followed the tips and practices outlined here many times myself, in my years of living in an area with heavy (not quite clay, but similar) dirt.But for the enthusiasts who really want to dig a garden in their clay soil and grow tomatoes there, I’ve got some solid (pardon the pun) advice.First, you can opt out of coping with the inhospitable earth altogether by choosing to grow your crop in containers, in raised beds, or square foot gardens, with soil and amendments that come from suppliers in your area rather than your own yard.When you grow tomato plants in that type of garden bed, their roots will eventually come into contact with the dense earth beneath.To minimize clay soil’s negative tendencies in favor of that rich source of nutrition, you’ll need to amend, mulch, and manage irrigation throughout the growing season.Taking these steps will significantly increase your odds of harvesting a juicy, red (or green, purple, yellow…) crop of tomatoes at season’s end.While my area doesn’t feature standard red clay, I do garden in soil that’s dense and dries into hard clumps.).Gardening expert Mike McGrath also recommends saving eggshells, drying them, crushing them to a powder, and adding this to the planting hole.Instead, you’ll want to take entire sections of the dense dirt right out of the ground and replace each with a more suitable mix of topsoil, compost, peat, manure, and other amendments.Since you’re starting with tomatoes first, make sure to choose a site that receives the eight hours of full sunlight they require.For each plant, use a high-quality spade that’s clean and sharp, and dig up a plug of soil that’s about 16 inches wide and a foot deep.Also avoid walnut wood shavings, since they produce juglone, a toxic chemical that will kill your tomatoes or anything else you try to grow.But natural, untreated wood shavings will prevent water from accumulating in the dense clay below the amended soil.That’s okay for tomatoes, which thrive in slightly acidic soil, but other vegetables might react poorly to the lack of nitrogen.Whether you go for the multi-plant or individual basins, make sure to work some sand or silt into the top three inches of any dense dirt that surrounds your planting areas.Make sure to determine just how tall your bush or vining variety will grow before selecting appropriate stakes, cages, or trellises.And mulch is an absolute must for keeping the garden bed from drying out, because any of the clay in your growing mix will become dense and compact if it’s not nice and moist.Do watch for slugs and snails, because they like to hide away in mulch by day and then slither out in the dark to eat holes in your precious fruits.If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’re probably getting the idea that it’s going to take a bit of extra work to grow tomatoes when you have clay soil.But do remember that the payoff is worth every bit of mulch you tote in the wheelbarrow, and every particle of wood ash you stir into the planting holes.And if you live in an area where everyone’s soil is made up of clay, I’m betting those delicious, juicy, fresh from the garden fruits are hard to come by.And then you’ll need to make sure these garden areas stay moist but not waterlogged for the rest of the growing season.If it gets too soggy and then dries out, your dirt could crack, which may expose the tomatoes’ roots and make it hard for the plants to draw nutrition from the soil or stay hydrated. .

How to Grow Beets

These versatile veggies and their greens can be eaten raw or cooked, allowing for a lot of creativity in the kitchen and a broad range of flavors for pleasing everyone's palate. .

D G G K A H H

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