Q. We are living in a very bad hard-pan soil area. When I dig a hole and add water, the water will stay for days. Can I have a garden on this ground?
A. So long as you have plenty of sunshine and access to water, the soil is no problem!
We promise “a great garden in any soil, and in almost any climate.” And we mean it! If you will follow the illustrations and instructions in the Mittleider gardening books that are available at www.growfood.com you will not even need to amend your soil with organic materials, and you can grow just fine in hard clay soil.
What you’ll be doing is making slightly raised, ridged, level soil-beds, and growing inside those. The only thing approaching soil amendments I do is plant small seeds by mixing 1 part seed with 100 parts sand, then cover the seed with sand, rather than clay soil.
Then, after the plants are up, and the clay soil begins to crack as it loses soil moisture, I will apply 5 to 10 pounds of sand to those cracks before watering. Doing this twice is usually enough to stop the damage to your plants’ roots from the cracking, and over time it improves the soil in the soil-bed as well.
If you feel the clay soil is just too hard to work with, and you’d rather not fight it, then build Grow-Boxes and grow your food above-ground. Several Mittleider gardening books show you how, including Grow-Box Gardening, Gardening By The Foot, and Lets Grow Tomatoes. And The Mittleider Gardening Course has a section that is devoted to Grow-Box gardening.