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Soil cracked when wet?

Evening all, I’ve noticed that a lot of my soil has large cracks/voids. I understand clay soil does this when wet. My soil is chalky subsoil with clay elements, but it appears to have cracked over the winter but is still moist? Any ideas? :smile:


  • B3B3 Posts: 27,304
    Clay does it when it's baked dry. Chasms in my garden. Not at all when wet. The clay swells and the cracks disappear. There's something else going on.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • gardenman91gardenman91 Posts: 429
    Here’s a photo that I was meant to upload earlier, not sure if the cracks are visible enough? 
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,299
    The more organic material you can add, the less your soil will crack.  No need to dig it in - a surface mulch, a couple of inches of compost or manure will gradually be incorporated by worms and will improve the structure.  And while the compost is on the surface it'll protect the soil beneath.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,857
    edited March 2021
    I think that simply needs lots of organic material worked  into it to improve the structure ... well rotted manure, home made garden compost, bought ‘soil conditioner’ , spent mushroom compost ... whatever you can get. 

    That soil looks tired and a bit ‘sour’ but improve the structure and it’ll be fine. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • gardenman91gardenman91 Posts: 429
    Thanks @Dovefromabove @Liriodendron :smile: I definitely already intend to add rotted manure as a mulch though need to break the surface up a little. Just wondered why it had cracked in the winter 🤷‍♂️ 
  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003
    Cracks happen in summer, was probably covered by plants/weeds........
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,299
    I had new soil delivered last autumn, to make up the levels around our new extension.  It was a mixture of "topsoil", municipal compost & grit, and was quite thick in places - up to about 8ins.  Over the winter we had heavy rain, and the soil surface consolidated.  As soon as we had a few days of dry, windy weather, the soil began to crack.  When I forked it over it broke up again - I assume it was impoverished soil, without the necessary microbes and organisms to give it proper structure, though by February it was full of worms...  (It's now had a couple of inches of compost over the top, and I'm about to put as many plants in as I can spare.)

    I reckon @Dovefromabove is right about your soil being tired, @gardenman91.  Tired and hungry...
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • gardenman91gardenman91 Posts: 429
    @Liriodendron I’ll be adding some rotted manure this year in a few time 😊 should bring it back to life a bit!
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