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Re: bed prep

>Put down hardwood mulch about 6' deep then plant in the mulch directly on
>top of the clay and water water water the soil organisms will change the
>structure of the clay. The main one is fungus which turns the organic
>matter into aggregates of soil and carries it into the clay on the sticky
>root like parts of the fungus. At that point bacteria and worms and other
>fungus will get involved to create soil. If you go to great lengths to
>"amend" the soil it will have the appearance of a good soil but in fact
>will only look the part. The bad news is you can't do it, the good news is
>it will happen if you provide the organic matter and get out of the way.
>It takes about 3 years for the process to work and there is no short cut.

>Butch Ragland So. Indiana zone 5

Through our experience with our clay yard in the woods you are ABSOLUTELY
right.  If we had simply put down a good six inch base of hardwood mulch
and lightly mulched each year thereafter, we would have a really good base
with which to work with now.  Regretfully we didn't do it, but we are
catching up.  We have also found that for where we live, where it is
impossible to get dumptrucks and things down the driveway, etc. the most
affordable thing to do is to get a trailer full of mulch (we get a really
good discount at the local nursery for mulch and buy a lot of it) and
"pre-amend" berms and planting areas with it.  Sometimes we also dig some
of the clay and mix.  The end result after five years is that the soil is a
lot better now, the plants are doing better, and if you dig a shovelful of
dirt now, you get tons and tons of large earthworms out.  That to me is the
best indicator of our soil improvement.

Stacy Holtzman
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Bloomington, Indiana Z5b

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