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Strategies for growing in clay

publication date: Oct 1, 2016
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Aeons ago, when the coast of Maine was not where it is now, much of what we call Clayfield Farm was under water. Our farmhouse sits high on a rocky ridge where the soil left by the glaciers is sandy and very well drained. But to the south, the terrain slopes down to almost level marine clay. As soon as the snow recedes in the spring we are able to cultivate and plant the sandy beds up by the house with spinach, lettuce, Asian greens and kale, but we must wait a month or more for the lower clay fields to dry out before we can work them. The clay is dense and deep, mostly yellow with occasional blue veins and is well suited for pottery. For years we have resisted the urge to become potters and have applied ourselves instead to farming. We have developed three basic strategies for growing vegetables in our clay market gardens. They are: water management, aeration, and amending.

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