Gardeners are no different from other folks – we want to accomplish more work with less effort. One of the biggest jobs when gardening in north Georgia is turning hard red clay into soil that will produce healthy plants.
Occasionally, gardeners hear that adding gypsum will magically soften the soil and reduce the amount of digging that has to be done.
In fact, gypsum does soften soil to some extent when used agriculturally, when other soil factors are taken into account.
Research at the University of Georgia showed an increased yield from several crops when gypsum was plowed into the fields. Gypsum is most useful on soil that contains lots of sodium, which is not the case in Georgia.
So, is gypsum a miracle clay softener for homeowners? Will our tillers rust from disuse?
The answer is “No” on both counts.
Copious amounts of compost or soil conditioner, mixed to a depth of 10 inches is still the best way to soften clay soil at the rooting depth.
Garden miracles still occur only in Hollywood …..and Georgia gardeners must continue their romance with their shovels.