Thursday, April 24, 2008

container gardening in my yard

If you've never lived in the south I don't think you could ever really appreciate the "quality" of Georgia clay. To help you Midwesterners with dark, crumbly soil picture it, just imagine if every handful you picked up and squeezed left fingerprints on the clump, now shaped roughly like your hand. Amended, it then has clay clumps hanging around in the topsoil/compost/soil conditioner. And, to top it off, it is terra cotta, rusty red. In fact, I believe we might have the only zoo anywhere with orange elephants. (Think about it.)

I garden. Georgia has a serious drought right now, so I don't put in annuals, but I inherited a lovely yard and I've added many perennials and lots of herbs to the yard. We terraced a small area for a vegetable garden last year and I planted lettuce, swiss chard and snow peas this February, right near our compost heap. And today Bug and I put in tomatoes: Sweet 100's and Big Boys. A few went in the back by the compost, but most I planted in our front yard by my lamp post and hidden by purple coneflowers, Shasta daisies and Black Eyed Susans. The neighbors either don't care or don't notice. The kids both eat tomatoes, so we can keep up with several plants, and most years we get cherry tomatoes until right around Halloween.

Gardening in this soil is interesting, to say the least. I'd love to have a foot of black topsoil put on top of all the clay and then have all my flowers, bushes and trees replanted. Instead I container garden without containers. Sounds crazy, but it describes my yard pretty well. I dig a hole in the clay, add some good soil and plant my green stuff. Surrounding the black soil is a "pot" of red clay. Sometimes you dig a hole (not an easy task when the clay is dry and hard) and discover that you're a few inches off from a previous hole. Much simpler to just adjust and move to the "pot" of good soil. I know I had tomatoes in about the same spots last year, but I wasn't able to find the good soil in my front yard. And, digging more than about eight inches is a joke. Fortunately the tomato seedlings were small and that was plenty. They'll have to do the rest themselves.


  1. Goodness. Though I love plants and gardens, I am not much of a gardener. I just barely manage to get my garden into a state that is not an embarrassment to the neighbours in our nice soft diggable soil. Flowers AND tomotoes? In clay? I'm beyond impressed.

  2. I am so NOT a gardener. And I inherited a yard with a bunch of lovingly tended-to gardens that have sadly started to fall into disrepair under my neglectful eye.

    Our ground here has a tendency towards clay and mud, too (though I am sure it is NOTHING compared to Georgia's) and in our veggie garden, the soil has had nearly 20 years of coal ashes added to it and that dirt is like velvet. And this year? We're putting in ONE tomato plant and probably a batch of broccoli. That's it. We are both gardened out.

  3. In California we just have brown, dry, dirt.

    And sand.