I am starting my first garden. We are in zone 4/5, at 3200 ft, and pretty much any ground that is not covered with evergreen trees is heavy medium brown clay. I am using raised beds made from tires and old cedar poles not good for anything else. DH brought home 1 ton of black compost, several bags of sphagnum moss and vermiculite. The latter we ran out of real fast, at it's too expensive up here, so I am trying to create a mix of soil that won't turn to concrete the minute I water it. I've dug at least a foot beneath all beds, removed the clay (oh my back), and in a wheel barrow, mixed 1/2 "topsoil" (perhaps top six inches of clay soil with organic material skimmed from various areas) with 1/2 black cured compost. Then, I pile on spagnum or peat moss, perhaps 1/4 - 1/3 total amount to it, mix it up with my hands in the wheel barrow, and dump it in. My poor plants . . . even though I enrich the original topsoil, it is still so heavy I can barely stick my fingers into it when damp. It breaks up and crumbles when mostly dry, but my tomatoes, just beginning to flower, look choked up, as if they are gasping for air. The leaves have greyish patches and are losing their moisture, although the soil is not dry or even soaking wet. They were started in potting soil, and transplanted with the same soil around their roots. How long, or how many years did it take those of you with clay soils to condition them? I've heard it takes more than one season. Did anyone use sulphur to acidify their soil? Or, did you just use compost?