Judy Glattstein
Tue, 18 Feb 2003 11:19:36 PST
As Jane McGary's message points out, not all clay soils are equivalent. The
one universal panacea is organic matter, the more the better. My NJ red
clay, laced like a plum pudding with chunks of red shale, is slowly
responding to compost, shredded leaves, shredded branches cadged from the
county road department and used as a mulch (dusting of dried blood or
cottonseed meal speeds their decay) and my favorite, llama beans. The last
can be used intact, or shredded. be warned, the holes in a shredder/
grinder's screen are just that little bit bigger than the "beans" to result
in spraying these little manure pellets all over the driveway with
machine-gun rapidity. Organic matter is not like money in the bank. It
continues to break down and needs constant replenishment. When you consider
that an acre of deciduous woodland here in NJ drops a ton to a ton and a
half of leaves and litter EVERY year, you gain an appreciation for what Mama
Nature does in the recycling department.

About gypsum - usual problem is that people dust a thin coating which is not
sufficient. Gypsum, aka calcium sulphate, should be used at a rate of 5
pounds per 100 square feet in loamy soil, twice that rate of application if
soil is heavy. Spread gypsum, dig in to thoroughly incorporate in top few
inches, lastly thoroughly moisten the treated soil. Gypsum helps loosen
heavy soils, most dramatically where high magnesium levels make matters

Judy in the Garden State with  snow-so-deep (otherwise I could see my

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