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Simple Ways to Condition Clay Soil

Seeds are flying off the shelves in stores and online, that means new gardeners, and new garden plots. Many people in the Northern Kentucky area have clay soil in their yards which can be challenging to work with but do not fret! There are very easy and FREE ways to condition your clay soil to help your garden grow. Clay soil is very dense and holds water. This is both a great thing and a terrible thing. Water retention is very helpful during summer months and really high temperatures but many plants need well drained roots to thrive. Conditioning your clay gives you the best of both worlds. There is still plenty of time to condition your soil. Most vegetables can be planted as late in the season as June 15. 1 Turn the soil before planting anything. This means flipping the soil upside down with a garden fork or a shovel, or using a rototiller. Do this at least once before planting but strive for twice. I like to flip my soil a day or two before a big rain because it helps the soil settle and helps break down some of the huge clumps of clay. I prefer a garden fork because I like the exercise and find it easier than a shovel. Using a rototiller is great but make sure the soil isn't too wet or it'll be a sticky mess. 2 When you turn your soil, do not remove any growing grass or weeds. Leaving the vegetation helps fertilize your soil as it rots from being turned over and no longer getting water and sunlight. This also helps break up the clay and promotes drainage. Worried about weeds growing in the [...]

Spring Garden Preparation

  Whether you are getting ready to plant fruits and vegetables, or planning a beautiful flower garden, there are things that you must do in order to guarantee the best results for your garden this spring. This post, along with materials (see video and Pinterest page) from the Kenton County Public Library should help. Preparing your garden doesn’t have to be complicated. Enjoy a sunny afternoon by donning your gardening gloves and taking these four easy, basic steps for gardens big or small, perennial or vegetable. 1.  Basic Maintenance Start your spring gardening with some basic maintenance. Remove any covers you used to protect plants during the winter, and perform any repairs or servicing on gardening tools and equipment. Better to have problems with the lawnmower fixed now, rather than mid-summer. Take a walk around the garden looking for signs of winter damage. Paving stones may heave with freezing and thawing, fences may need repainting or repair work, and decks need cleaning. 2.  Prepping Garden Beds Winter snow or rain compacts bedding soil, so you’ll need to prep your beds in advance of planting. Remove winter mulch or, if it’s compostable, dig it into the soil. Use a spading fork to aerate the soil, breaking up clogs of dirt. You want to make the soil lighter and capable of holding water and air. At this point it is time to test the soil for deficiencies and amend if necessary. Soil Testing The tests provide the levels of pH, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, organic matter and sometimes lead and other metal levels.  It is recommended to test the soil each season with a home soil test kit you can buy at the hardware store. Amending the Soil Based on [...]