How Can I Grow In My Heavy Clay Soil?

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.