Clay Soil

Angus Stewart

You know, clay is one of the most maligned substances in the garden. It can be your worst nightmare, as it is here, or it can be your best asset.


It all depends how you treat it. Clay can be a sticky mess, poorly drained and set like concrete. The traditional way to treat a large area of soil is powdered gypsum, which we sprinkle over and then dig it in.

But it does take a long time to dissolve and it’ll be a couple of months before you get the full effects. I’ve got a small planting hole today, so I’m going to use an alternative. This is a liquid clay breaker which is based on liquid organic matter. You could also use, say,

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liquid from your worm farm or a liquid manure would have the same sort of effect – and cost a lot less, of course.

Now, once it’s taken effect, this is the sort of result that we’re looking for. So I’ve treated this with the liquid clay breaker and now, when that soil crumbles, we get these crumbs of clay.

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So we still get water and nutrients stored inside them. But the water can run around the outside of them, giving us the drainage we really need.

So, I’m going to have two bob each way by sprinkling some gypsum in the bottom of the hole.

And then I’ve prepared this solution of the liquid clay breaker which we use to water in the gypsum, putting plenty of water in the hole for the plant that I’m going to put in there. I always like to give my plants a good soak before they go in the ground. This one’s a really good one for clay soil, but it’s had a few name changes.

It used to be known as Baeckea virgata, then it became Babingtonia virgata and I believe now they want to call it Sannantha virgata but I’m just going to call it ‘Becky’ because she loves the clay soil.

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So, let’s just break that clay up a little bit more. Now we’re ready to go into the ground. Just tease those roots out a little bit.

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..and of course we still need to water in, to make sure there’s great contact between the soil and the newly planted roots. But I’ve also got some of the liquid clay breaker in there as well, just to finish the job.

I reckon Becky will love that!