Cool Member
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:03 am
Location: Oshkosh Wisconsin

Clumpy Soil.. Why?

I have done a garden for a couple of years now... it's been a huge battle with weeds and whatnot - Last year I had wonderful luck with my soil it broke down nicely when I tilled it in the spring but this year it seemed to not want to break down futher than between gravel size and golfball size clumps. I even attempted to let it dry out a bit more and tilled twice more and still got the clumping. Did I do something wrong?

My garden is a low spot - it was a bit of damp spring - soil has some clay in it and I've been working in the lawn clipping, leaves and organic matter every year. After the nice soil last year I was surprised to see it like this this year. Any advice?

Is there anything to turning over the garden in the Fall with a shovel and leaving the soil in really large clumps over the winter? My grandfather who farmed all his life says you have to do that to have the soil break down properly.

Ok - I guess thats enough questions on this thread.
I couldn't survive without the pleasure my garden brings to me.

hit or miss
Green Thumb
Posts: 354
Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 8:57 pm
Location: central Kansas

Your clumping problem comes from working the dirt way too wet. With a clay content you actually are making bricks. Amend the soil with lots of organic matter, compost and the like, and you will soon have nice tilthy soil.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Yep! Tilling it too wet will do that.

I prefer to add organic matter in the fall and till it in. Come spring, you don't need to till or if at all till very shallow .

Winter will make the soil mellow.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 5:53 pm
Location: Illinois

I took a class once on soil science and it is actually good if you do not till very often because it keeps breaking down the soil into smaller and smaller particles which do not allow as much room for air and water spaces in the soil which are good for plants. Also, if you turn it over in the fall, you will have bare soil exposed for several months which will be subject to eroding and blowing away your good top soil. Some farmers use no till farming with good results.

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Lifestyle Lift Journey
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Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:11 am
Location: Australia

Comment from robert31 reminded me a non-dig garden, which is a garden bed made up of layers of organic materials that does not require back-breaking digging and tilling. It is a friendly garden for your back and even physically disadvantaged gardeners. The material commonly used for the non-dig garden beds are compost, straw, organic fertilizer, and hay. These materials might help your garden too, FruitAddict. Good luck!

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