11 June 2007

The Tragedies of Clay

One of the tough lessons I'm learning this Spring, my first in the house and with the garden, is that we have some serious clay soil. Clay, clay, clay. This is old blackland prairie, folks, which is characterized by clay soil dense enough to create large shallow pools of water with just about any rain. Many of the first settlers noticed the same when they first arrived to Texas, before the blackland was tilled and turned into farms and home plots. So, it's not just compaction from construction. (But that doesn't help either). Matt White talks about the character of this area now and then in his book Prairie Time: A Blackland Portrait.

So, there was the desperate move of the desert willow from front to back (the poor West Texas native was drowning after all this rain). My two shrubs of another western species, cenizo, are just now on their last legs, too. I think the clay is simply too tough for their little roots.

That'll learn me. So, the lesson here is: a) plant things adapted for this soil (a.k.a, native blackland species), and/or b) amend the soil like a mofo with Natural Gardener Revitalizer compost BEFORE doing anything else. I get the feeling that I'm going to have some hot days this summer, working a big pile of this compost into my beds.

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