Learn more about soil compaction and its effects on yor vegetable garden. We thank CSU Extension Master Gardeners Notes 711 for this valuable information.
On clayey soils, soil compaction is a common problem limiting crop growth potential. Soils are typically compacted in the construction process. Walking on wet soils, cultivating wet soils, and the impact of rain are other common forces compacting soils.
The following are suggested to help minimize soil compaction in the garden:
- Add organic matter to clayey soils.
- Avoid cultivating or working a clayey soil when wet. To evaluate, squeeze a handful of soil. Then try to crumble it. If it will crumble, it can be worked. If it will not crumble but stays in mud balls, it is too wet to be worked.
- Avoid cultivating other than to prepare a seed bed or till in organic matter and fertilizers. For weed control, use a mulch, hand removal, or shallow cultivation only.
- Use a raised bed with established walkways, and avoid walking on the growing bed.
- Mulch the soil, year round, to minimize the compaction forces of rain and sprinkler irrigation. This also helps manage weeds and reduces irrigation need.