Don't be too despondent clay, because of its density, is good at retaining moisture, it also tends to be more nutrient-rich than other soil types. On the negative side it's slow to drain, compacts easily if it's walked on, and as the weather warms clay is slow to take the benefit. To improve it I would suggest first adding a layer of sharp sand (the sand will help prevent the clay binding back together), then on top of this add lots of organic matter, anything you can get hold of – spent mushroom compost, contents of old grow bags, grass clippings, Fallen leaves (at this time of year theres plenty of leaves about), rotted manure, and garden compost are all good. Spread the organic matter on top of the sharp sand quite thickly 3-4” or more, if you can get it then leave if for a month or two, then dig or rotovate it into the top 6 – 12”. Don't worry about the worms they'll survive despite your activity, and it's the microorganisms and nematodes that co exist in the soil that you want to encourage. It's not a quick fix, you will have to repeat the process at least every year and over a few years you will gradually see improvement in both your soil and the quality of your veg.
If all this sounds too onerous build small raised beds (using decking boards or similar) on top of the clay. Initially fork over the top few inches of clay then fill the raised bed with a mix of top soil, sharp sand and organic matter. The latter method gives a quick growing space for your veg.
Also, it will cut the weeds up, multiplying them
Dig in plenty of manure to the clay soil, this will break it up and help it immensely
I saw a program on the telly recently called The Harvest, the potato grower had very clay soil and he dug in plenty of manure to help condition it
Thank you Geoff and Blicky. I think I will just dig and not Rotovate. When I dug up our Onions the soil was very compact so I will have to dig deeper than a spade's length next time. I only dug in Multipurpose Compost last time so I will try to find something you have suggested. Marion
Thanks for the Link Harry. I watched the Video. He said to orientate the bed East West which is useful to know. He explained about greens and browns very well. A very interesting Video. I now need to rearrange the whole garden and start again. Marion
we also have heavy clay, I rotavated horse manure in (see my polyT blog) don't worry about the worms, they will flourish in the added conditioner plus the soil will be a delight to handle as it becomes more friable. I have raised beds also which get the same treatment. It takes time & initial effort but gone are the days when I used to break fork & spade handles fighting clay. Some councils offer compost, worth a search perhaps. Now is a good time to start such projects as the soil will have time to mature & settle somewhat before spring planting/sowing etc.
I have decided to Rotavate now as I don't think I have time to dig with the shorter days. What a poor excuse ! Now guess what...... my dear little reliable Rotavator won't start ! Luckily we have a Garden Machinery Repairer in the village. Hubby thinks it might just need a new Spark Plug. Marion