We had a lot of rain this year that flooded many gardens and actually killed plants as a result. Soils with poor drainage were the worst.

Fall is a great time to improve garden soil. I am sometimes asked if sand can be added to clay soil to make it better and allow water to flow through it easier.

Sand is sometimes suggested as an amendment for clay soils. However, there is good reason to be cautious about using sand. In order for sand to be effective in breaking up a clay soil, sand grains must touch one another so there are pore spaces between grains that can hold air and/or water. If the grains do not touch, the clay fills in all the voids between the sand particles leaving no room for pores.

This is the same principle used to make concrete, and the result is somewhat the same. You end up making a bad situation worse.

So how much sand does it take? Normally, we consider about 80 percent sand to be sufficient. In most cases this makes the use of sand impractical. Adding organic matter (compost, well-rotted manure, etc.) is a much better choice.

Scott Eckert is Harvey County Extension agent, horticulture.