Friday, August 5, 2022

Why you should be careful when growing Sweet Potatoes in Heavy Clay

So the title pretty much gives away the whole story of my feelings about growing sweet potatoes in heavy clay. It is miserable. It is miserable if the clay is moist and muddy and it is miserable if the clay is dry and as hard as a brick. It is miserable not knowing what you are trying to cut through to find the sweet potatoes and it is miserable accidentally hitting the soaker hose when you are just trying to get out a tuber.


The problem with trying to grow sweet potatoes in heavy clay is that they stick. The tubers stick to the mud or the hard clumps of dirt and can be nearly impossible to distinguish or separate from the material they are growing in. While there are some people who speak out against amending clay with sand, I am very much a proponent of the idea. One very nice thing about amending clay with sand is that sand does not biodegrade the same way that organic material will – so despite its ability to loosen the soil, sand remains around for a while. The same can likely be said about clay being added to sand - except clay definitely has a higher available nutrient content as well as a literal “sticking power”.
























 In the end, I did manage a crop of tubers from the work garden over the pandemic - but they set deeper in the ground along the cracks and seams, so that the increased effort required to extract them damaged the structure of the soil I was moving to find them.

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