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Why Clay and Hard Soils Need Gypsum

James Ellison

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There are many people that are faced with a soil problem that includes hard clay and/or a subsoil that is almost like rock. If this is the case for you then gypsum may be what you are looking for to alter the soil structure. The only draw-back that gypsum, also known as gypsite, may have is that it may take 2 to 3 years to get that compacted soil in a position to manage. It is not a fast acting substance. The good thing about it is that it is inexpensive and easy to apply where it is needed.

You can use it in many different situations where:
  • many soils are too salty.
  • your ground may be clay.
  • You have had large machinery or livestock compacting the soil.
  • Earth movement has exposed the subsoils that are hard.
  • To have a healthy productive garden you need to have good drainage for your plants to thrive and the roots to grow correctly. But with compacted soil what you have is mucky soil and very bad drainage.

    To prepare the soil for your new garden, adding humus, composted manure, compost, mulches and conditioners are usually the additives that one would use. These items will loosen the soil and do their job over time also.

    Alright, you have an established garden and have been fighting the ground for years. To recondition the soil will take some work and patience. Here is where gypsum may come to the rescue. Since it does not have to be worked into the ground you can just spread it out on the surface of ground. Use it on the lawn, the bed of flowers and vegetable garden.

    Gypsum is really easy to broadcast, just use a lawn spreader and use at a rate of 40 to 60 pounds per one thousand square feet if you use the granular kind. To get it going to do its job you must start watering it in to the soil. Of course, gypsum should be applied per directions.

    What gypsum actually does is enter the clay particles of the heavy or hard soils and causes the structure of the soil to open with slots of air and moisture and then you have a more flexible soil to work with.

    It can be applied anytime of the year and only needs to be done twice per year.
    When broadcasted correctly it is not harmful to people or your pets and livestock, has no affect on the pH of the soil and will not burn.

    Since it is a neutral pH conditioner it is also safe to use around acid loving plants like Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons. However, heed that gypsum contains no nutrients, in other words it does not fertilize. Though it is made of calcium and sulfur which is needed for growth of plants.

    In addition, continue to put out organic humus, compost, mulches and organic fertilizers as you plant. By applying organic material continually will serve the same purpose as well.

    Jim's articles are from extensive research on each of his topics and life-long experience. You can learn more of gypsum and organic fertilizers by visiting: what are the benefits of gypsum use ?

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