The Dirt

Frightful soil for a frightful Halloween!

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

It’s a wonder I ever got into gardening. This is what the soil looked like where I grew up in southwestern Virginia. Bright red clay. Hard as a rock when dry, sink-up-to-your-ankles squishy when wet. It would stain everything—shoes, foundations, carpets… But look around, and you’d notice that it’s reflected by so many things in the surrounding woods. The rusty rooftop of an old homestead, new spring growth, and fallen leaves. And then it’s not so ugly after all.

Got any tips for gardening in soil like this? Comment below! I’m sure there are lots of people struggling with clay just like this in their own gardens.

 

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Comments

  1. GenevieveS 10/27/2010

    Wow! I'm grateful for my shocking almost-two-feet of topsoil! That is insane.

    But you're totally right, when a color is reflected in the surroundings and landscape, it does take on a beauty of its own.

  2. sweetrebecca 10/27/2010

    My parents live in Auburn, CA where the soil is as red as this - and I'm with you. I used to hate it, but have grown to love it as it's truly beautiful with the surrounding oaks and fall's beautiful colors. 'Sense of Terroir' at its finest!

  3. ncgardener 10/31/2010

    Compost, compost and then, oh yeah more compost. I am working with Carolina clay and construction hardpan so I feel your pain. It is pretty to look at but trying to turn it into working soil is a lot of work. Maybe raised beds or containers. Or bricks?

  4. amanda4973 11/10/2010

    Native plants? That's not a very valuable answer, is it?

    I'd amend the soil with yearly compost, manure, mulch ... something you layer on top. If I were to move to that area, I'd probably send the state agricultural university a soil sample and follow the advice in the test results, because, my gosh, that's so different from our Pacific Northwestern soil. It must need different amendments.

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