June 2018 Meeting - Gardening on Clay - Geoff Hodge

On a sweltering Monday evening in June, Geoff Hodge was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of Allestree Gardening Club to talk about Gardening on Clay, a very apt subject considering the amount of clay encountered by gardeners in Allestree.

80 members and visitors heard Geoff gave in-depth advice on how to get a very good clay soil, by the addition of as much bulky organic matter (BOM) as possible preferably before planting. The addition of a flocculating agent, to help break up the clay structure would also be beneficial, gypsum being a good example. Grit could also be added and sharp sand but not builders sand or silver sand.   He emphasised that plants would still grow in a poor clay soil since clay particles were very good at holding moisture and nutrients but obviously would be much better once the clay had been enriched and broken down into a better texture.

His interaction with the audience was first class with repartee and humour and received a very good response from the members.

He went on to extol the virtues of mulching, importantly onto a wet soil surface, to retain moisture, keep the soil surface cool and to suppress weeds. A depth of 4” was ideal but even a depth of 2” would work well.

He finished the evening’s talk by describing and showing with excellent photographs a range of plants suitable for a clay environment, these included Roses, trees and shrubs such as Silver Birch, Eucalyptus, Weigelia, Cytisus (broom), Berberis and Cotoneaster.