This is mighty fine gumbo, but what I’m talking about is dirt.

The good old Texas dirt in my area is called gumbo, which is mainly made up of clay. While I was thinking about making this post I was unlucky enough to have a water line break but lucky enough to have some big strong men dig up the yard which gave me a chance to get a good photo of our gumbo dirt. I could easily form a ball out of that pile of gumbo. There is no fine soil to slip through my fingers.

In elementary school, my kids learned that clay came from the ground, so we dug some up and the kids made pottery which has been in the garage for 20 years.

The clay in the gumbo holds water and is sticky when wet. That is a plus until it drys out and gets hard. I had a happy accident and found that some plants that thrive in the native soil. When I moved to my current property, I brought many plants and had to find a temporary place for them while my landscaping was being installed. There was a clearing in the back corner of the woods where I planted all my gingers with the intent to move them later. As it turned out they were perfectly happy there thriving and reproducing for twenty-plus years.

The rest of my plants live in raised beds filled with garden soil.

To end with a funny story, I once put my husband in charge of planting a new rose bush. He is not a gardener and I’m not sure why I did that. He carefully read the planting instructions, which said to dig a hole bigger than the pot and fill it with water for a perc test. Needless to say, he constructed a well that took days to drain as the clay retained all the water. No more perc tests for this garden.

18 Comments on “Gumbo”

  1. It’s amazing how Mother Nature picks the right soils for the native plants. Maryland is known for its red clay, but Coastal North Carolina is very sandy, as you might expect.

    • The gingers are not really native here, most are from tropical Asia, India, Africa and
      Americas, but do well here. Maybe the soil is the same there or because the clay holds water. I can’t believe they make it through our freezes.

  2. Tina says:

    The gumbo might not be so pretty, but it grows some pretty things.

  3. Love the husband story. My husband would do something similar, plant the rose anyway and then accidentally step on something green that I love(d). He is not a gardener either. Oddly, the soils in our gardens are complete opposites but similar in color? Go figure.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    I bet native plants make it easier to garden there, adapted as they are. You make me happy for my porous soil!

  5. shoreacres says:

    I’m surprised your gingers have done so well in that soil. If only people’s foundations could do as well! That wet/dry cycle in gumbo does wreak a lot of havoc. It is interesting to actually see the stuff after hearing so much about it.

  6. Cathy says:

    Clay soil must be the worst to garden with. I have always been lucky in my gardens, although we do have patches in the grass which do not drain in winter and get baked in summer, so I suspect there is some clay in that area too.

  7. Ann Coleman says:

    I have a friend who once bought two dozen tulip bulbs, and asked her husband to plant them by the front porch. He dug one small hole, dumped all the bulbs in and covered them up. That was the end of his helping with the annual bulb planting……

  8. Deb says:

    I love it that you used it for homemade clay pots. We have red clay around here but there are some place not as bad as others.

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