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Planting in wet /moist clay soil - how long to wait after it’s rained…


I’ve dug over my clay soil and added manure and soil improver 

I now want to plant it up. I’ve read that you shouldn’t walk on it when it’s damp and shouldn’t plant it up either when it’s damp /wet. Because it’s clay, it stays wet and moist long after it’s rained. 

It’s been raining on/off for past week and more rain is forecast for the next week too.

For how long should I hold off - are we talking wait 24hrs after it’s rained heavily or wait until it’s very dry…

Ironically it’s been so dry over the past month…  I finished the digging just as the rain showers have started. 



  • B3B3 Posts: 25,209
    I'd say the absolute best time to plant in clay is when it's damp and rain is expected!
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 Posts: 883
    Agree with @B3, when we had a garden with clay soil the best/only time we could dig it was after rain. 
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • WildFlower_UKWildFlower_UK Posts: 236
    I have clay soil and agree that now is a great time to plant up. I too have been waiting for the rain which finally came. I don't think it matters if you wait 24 hours or 5+ or so days. Just do it before it dries out (although seems unlikely as you say, with the forecast rain!). The fact that you've added manure and soil improver should mean the texture should be improved enough so it being really wet won't be an issue. 
    "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need"
  • edited May 2021
    I have clay and now (April/May) is the right time to plant. 
    The only time I would avoid is when you have had rain for a long period i.e. constant for 2/3 weeks and the ground is like Glastonbury Festival; sucks you in when you walk on it and you take most of it home on your boots!  If you leave it too long after raining though and its nice sunny weather it'll be too hard to get into.  So a couple of weeks after long periods of rain and it will almost feel like you have nice soil to dig. 
    Great that you are adding manure and soil improver all over, but each time you put a plant in, dig the hole, put in compost, dig over to include the compost, tread it down gently, dig hole again put handful of compost in and then the plant and back fill. This way you'll keep that soil improvement going and give your plants the best chance at getting their roots in.  
    Clay soil - hard to dig, cracks in the sun, claggy in the rain but, once they are in, boy do the plants like it! (as long as you have plants that can grow in clay i.e. not Mediterranean ones or those that need sandy free draining soil).  My plants always grow bigger and better in my clay than they do in my Mom's free draining garden.  
    Good luck and enjoy!
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,035
    I would when you can actually dig it and turn it over.  Generally a few days after rain.  It's a black art finding the 'digging point' of clay soil.
  • B3B3 Posts: 25,209
    You have to drop everything and dig when the window of opportunity opens
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,427
    Yes  I agree clay here much improved in most areas. I found the worst was trying to weed, either too thick and claggy or dry as a bone, so you have to bite the bullet
  • Thank you all! I took the advice and I did all the planting today!
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