Raised Bed Garden Soil – Clay and Compost
There is a lot of debate on what the best soil for a raised garden bed should be. Organic gardeners make their own soil by improving the soil they have. When clay and compost are mixed together, it has the ability to be the best soil you will ever have.
Clay soil can offer many benefits to an organic garden that no other soil can, and when mixed with compost the results can be priceless, from feeding plants to innovative methods of pest control. There are a variety of benefits that clay can provide an organic garden when applied to plants, or soil.
Clay soil contains many vital minerals and metals required for plants to thrive that are not available in many other soil types, like iron, calcium, potassium and trace amounts of other organic compounds. clay can also add to the potency of compost when added to the composting process.
The particles of clay are negatively charged, this give them the ability to attract and hold onto, or absorb, positively charged elements such as ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other trace elements. Clay soil is relatively fertile due to its ability to absorb these important plant nutrients.
Compost plays a key role in a clay soil management plan. The humified nature of compost, low concentration of oxidizable carbon, and available nitrogen make compost relatively resistant to further decomposition. The purpose of adding compost to any soil is not for its nutrient value, as much as it is for increasing the organic carbon and humic matter, stabilized organic matter content to improve the physical properties of soil over time.
Compost attracts earthworms, and other beneficial microorganisums by providing them a healthy diet. The presence of these organisms and microorganisms is a sign that compost is a healthy living material, and represent a balanced soil ecology. They are what is needed to work the soil naturally by decomposing organic material, and release nutrients in there travels through the soil. Soil amended with compost helps to control disease and insect problems that could overrun your garden.
Soil pH also benefits when it is amended with compost. For a majority of plats grown in a vegetable garden, nutrients are available to them at a pH range of 5.5 – 7.5. A finished compost normally has pH of 6.0 – 8.0, 7.0 being neutral, giving it the ability when mixed with soil to keep the pH at optimum levels for nutrient availability.
The companionship of both clay soil and compost will provide many benefits that no other soil combination can provide. When compost is used as a soil amendment with clay, it binds to the clay particles forming larger particles that provide for larger air space between them. These larger spaces allow for a better surface water drainage, and air penetration.