Vegetables That Grow Well In Clay Soil

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By Arthur Mbanefo

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Clay is no gardener’s choice of soil when growing vegetables. We all wish we could have a rich, crumbly, loamy soil teeming with life. 

However, if your property is cursed with clay, growing healthy vegetables is still possible –only you have limited options. 

Your best bet is to tune to shallow-rooted vegetables that can tolerate (and benefit from) the heavy clays. 

So what are some of the vegetables that grow well in clay soil? 

The vegetables that do REALLY well on clay are daikon radishes, potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and Broccoli —just to mention a few. Below we will list even more. 

But since clay is slow to warm, planting early spring crops will be challenging. 

NOTE: there is SO much to process about planting on this soil. However, a massive part of success starts from sowing crops compacting with this soil structure. 

7 Best Vegetables That Grow Well In Clay Soil

1. Broccoli

This green that looks like a miniature tree is notoriously known for loving clay soils. 

And you may think Broccoli will do better in loamy soil, but it is the opposite. 

They tend to grow healthier in clay than in looser loams. This is because their shallow roots enjoy firm anchorage and the ability for clay to retain moisture. 

Don’t forget Broccoli loves its sufficient sun intake. So if the best time for sowing should be mid-summer, planting for fall harvest. 

2. Brussels sprouts

Another vegetable that grows well in clay soil is Brussels sprouts. 

Other soils CANNOT  adequately anchor this plant, even if you try propping them up with stakes and mound soil around their base. 

If it is not clay, your Brussels is likely to perform poorly. 

Also, they are best grown in cool weather, so early March to April seeding should be your target. 

Sow your sprouts under cloches or a fleece about 13mm deep in rows and 15cm apart. Remember to cover the seeds lightly with soil to firm them in. 

Most homeowners sow them in separate seedbeds and transplant them in early summer. And the produce is ALWAYS rewarding with delicious, crispy sprouts. 

3. Cabbage (red and green)

This one is a no-brainer. Most people only go for red and green cabbage. But even the savoy and napa cabbage also thrive well in clay soil.

However, it is imperative the plant sucks plenty of moisture and receive six hours of sunlight, 

And for summer harvest, sow in the spring but start indoors. 

Meanwhile, if you want a fall crop, sow directly in the garden in early July. 

And whenever it is freezing, your cabbage will tolerate the temperatures.

4. Cauliflower

While cauliflower is most appreciated in rich, moist, and well-drained soil with pH 7, they thrive in clay too. This is because of its high water retention capacity.

They also love their correct dose of sun, so give them enough of it. 

However, cauliflower seeds are most sowed indoors and are brought out mid to late spring. 

Like other veggies, the sowing times vary depending on the harvest time. 

If you want to harvest in early spring, sow in summer. Sow in autumn to harvest mid-to-late spring. And then sow in winter to reap in early summer. 

5. Kale

Kale also sits prevalently amongst the vegetables growing well in clay soil.

Besides clay, it flourishes in other types of soil and conditions. 

It also loves the sun but can also manage light shade. 

Kale harvest is like manna from heaven. It is among the highest nutritional greens, packed with more essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients than most vegetables. 

You can start planting a month before the last frost or six to eight weeks before the first frost in late summer for fall and winter harvest.

6. Potato

Potato is another one to consider. And it keeps multiplying, which is why it is popularly grown amongst potato lovers. 

One thing about crops is they cherish fertile soil with a pH of up to 6.5. So you can enhance your heavy soil with compost or other rich organic matter. 

Also, it is best planted in cooler weather. For instance, in the spring, you should plant it two to four weeks before the last frost, especially when the soil temperature is 40 degrees F at least. 

However, in a warm climate, sow from January to March to harvest in March and June.

7. Daikon radishes

Last on our list of vegetables that grow well in clay soil is Daikon radishes. And they are worth considering. 

It is among my favorite clay-busting veggies and can plunge up to 24 inches. They are delicious and versatile enough to sow in spring, summer, or fall. 

Also, Daikkon radish grows best in cold weather. Therefore, it is usually sowed in mid-summer to early fall.

They have a pretty aggressive tillage root and can reach very deep down the clay. This enables them to absorb as many nutrients as possible, break down the hard clay, and improve the soil quality for future planting. 

I always have them around the garden as a carrot replacement if I run out. 

Conclusion

In summary, clay soil isn’t that bad.

I have had experience planting on clay soil at my previous property, and so far, so good. 

You have to come to an understanding with this soil —understanding its needs and quirks —then, it will reward you with the most fruitful garden. 

Even if it gets dried and turns into chunky slabs or wet and becomes heavy and slimy, it feels loamy with the suitable crops. 

The best part is: 

You don’t need to do much. The crops will be happy to spread their roots in this environment.

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