Q. Our soil is heavy clay! What can we do to have a decent garden – short of replacing it with something better, or adding tons and tons of sand and/or compost?
A. If you will do a couple of simple things beyond making raised, level, ridged beds, as described on the website and in all the books, you can have good success with your clay soil – without amending it!
When you plant seed, just use the handle of your hoe or rake to make a straight shallow furrow. Mix the seed you’re planting with 100 parts sand, then apply evenly in the furrow.
Then, instead of covering the seed with clay soil, cover it with a shallow layer (1/8″) of clean sand. You will have much better germination and emergence of your seeds if they don’t have to fight their way through clay.
After planting, as you water your soil-beds when the soil begins to crack as it loses moisture, apply just a few pounds of sand to the planting area of each grow-bed and water the sand into the cracks. The sand will fill the cracks and eliminate the cracking (you may need to do it a second time), and will stop the drying out and breaking of your plant roots that cracking clay soil usually inflicts upon them.