How To Improve Clay Soil

Main Vegetable Garden in mid-August

Here in the Cariboo, we have clay based soil that we are always trying to amend. I was reading Carla Emery’s book this morning (Encyclopedia of Country Living) again. I am always reading something from this awesome book.


Main Vegetable Garden in mid-August


Here’s what she says about using buckwheat as a form of green manure….buckwheat should work very well for us as we have a shorter gardening season (Canada Zone 3) and it matures so quickly.

“Buckwheat grows especially well in moist, cool climates and cold areas, from Pennsylvania north into Canada. But is grows acceptably well in many other regions. Buckwheat is also a good grain choice if you have poor soil, especially if it’s sticky, dense clay, because buckwheat roots break that up and make it loose. Buckwheat is not a good choice if you have nitrogen-rich soil. It will grow to tall and be likely to fall over. (p.156)”

We have always used fall rye as a green manure for the garden. We sow it in the fall and in spring, once growth starts again, we till it in. This has been a big help for us and we also use it in harvested areas of the garden during the gardening season.

This is our first try at using buckwheat, but I’m really hoping it is successful.We can either till it under to improve the soil, or we can harvest the grain after 90 – 110 days. Buckwheat pancakes, anyone?

There is a “grain quiz” in Carla’s chapter on Grasses and Grains, and here’s a bit more info on buckwheat.If you just plowed up a pasture and want a plant that can wipe out any grass trying to come back, which grain should you plant? ANSWER = Buckwheat

Which grain can you plant in your garden in July, on ground free-up by harvesting vegetables, that will give you a good crop before frost? ANSWER= Buckwheat

In addition to the buckwheat and rye, we add as much manure to the garden as possible including pig, chicken and horse. Adding old bedding from animal pens is done as well.  The hay/straw breaks down and adds to allow air into the soil.

Each year the garden soil has improved and we can tell by the texture. It’s lighter and fluffier than last year, and last year was better than the year before. The more compost, green manure, straw etc we add – the better the soil will become.


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How To Make a Natural Herbal DeWormer

Diatomaceous Earth

If you have livestock, you likely deworm them every spring and summer. Here’s a recipe for a homemade herbal dewormer – I would think it would be cheaper than store bought.

You should be able to find most or all of the ingredients at your grocery store or your natural health store.

Mix in equal parts:

  •  fennel seed
  • dehydrated garlic
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • sage
  • pumpkin seed
  • hyssop
  • red clover

For Goats:

Mix 1 tablespoon of the herb blend with one tablespoon of diatomaceous earth and then mix this into the daily ration of grain.

For Chickens:

For 30 birds, add one cup of de-wormer to their daily grain ration.

In General:

Add the dewormer to the feed rations for the first week of every month during Spring and Summer.

Recipe found in Small Farm Canada, May/June 2010 issue.