Vegetable Bed in Blackland Prairie Clay
I live in an area that has heavy blackland prairie clay soil. When it is moist, it swells; when it dries, it shrinks and becomes hard as a rock. Open fields typically form cracks that are as much as six inches wide and three feet deep during summer; these completely close during the rainy season. As you can imagine, it is challenging keeping a house on this stuff.
I decided to dig a bed that will first hold tomato plants. I've dug a trench 16 feet long, 2 feet wide and about 1.5 feet deep. I'm thinking of putting about a cubic yard of sand or gravel in the bottom and mixing a cubic yard of some kind of planting soil with the now-hard-as-rocks chunks of clay that I dug out of the trench. I expect a raised bed as a consequence, but all I really want to do is grow the biggest tomato plants I can, and use the bed for other plants in following years. How does that sound?