To grow healthy plants, you need perfect garden soil. But there are only a few gardens that have real perfect gardening soil. Garden soil amendments increase the health of the soil by nourishing it with a high quantity of top-quality nutrients.
If you think your garden soil is not perfect, you can make it perfect by using garden soil amendments. Soil amendments improve the structure of the soil, increase the level of nutrients, improve aeration, increase soil fertility, and more..
For the heavy harvest, Always Amend your garden soil before the season starts.
Read till the end to know everything about the Garden soil amendments.
Why do you need to add Garden Soil Amendments?
We all know the soil is made up of sand, clay, and silt particles. But this is the half story, the soil also contains minerals, organic nutrients, and vitamins for humans and plants. Actually, the soil is a complex system of tiny particles. The quality of soil is different in different places
Your front garden soil may contain high nutrients than your backyard soil.
Soil fertility varies from yard to yard and is different in every region.
Therefore, you need to use garden soil amendments to make a balance of nutrients. This nutrient balance is required to grow different types of plants in the same garden. New gardeners are always advised to check their soil for nutrient deficiencies and add organic amendments to improve the quality of soil nutrients
To check the nutrient level of your garden soil there is a laboratory test called soil test.
If you don’t want to get your soil tested from the laboratory you can do it at home by using Soil test kits. They are easily available on amazon.
Professional growers add soil amendments in their container soil, flower pots, front and back garden, raised beds, etc.
These soil amendments do the following things:
Increases the organic matter in your garden soil
Improve the nutrients levels
Improve the aeration and moisture-holding capacity of the soil
Promote the healthy growth of plants
Increase soil fertility
Improve soil texture
Make the soil stable
How to choose the right soil amendments?
There are many soil amendments available in the market but overall, you have two options one is organic and the other is synthetic. The question is how you will know what things you need to add to your garden soil to improve it. Again, you need to take your soil to the nearest soil testing laboratory or you can purchase the Soil test kit to test it at home.
The soil test will tell you the Soil pH, organic matter, and general fertility of the soil. Once you know the test results then you should match it with your plant needs. Suppose if your plant produces more greens than you need more nitrogen, you should mix plant-based organic compost.
To quickly improve your soil, add composted animal manures especially for a vegetable garden. Plants like tomatoes like a continuous supply of nutrients. Therefore, use compost to nourish the soil because it is a slow-releasing organic fertilizer.
Another thing you need to keep under control is Soil pH. The pH of soil affects the uptake of nutrients. Too acidic or too alkaline soil prevents nutrient absorption. Test your garden soil and if it is acidic add lime or if it is basic add Sulfur to adjust the pH level.
You don’t need to check your soil every day or every month. It is good to check your Garden soil once in 5 years.
Best Garden Soil Amendments
In your local garden store, you will find many bags of basic amendments like Compost, Manure, etc. Below are the most common and widely used Garden soil amendments.
This is the most widely used garden soil amendment. It can be made in your garden by using your kitchen waste, garden waste like leaves, garden debris, etc. Compost is the best soil amendment for sandy and clay soil. It improves the soil structure as well as increase the water holding capacities. This decomposed material also release dark color water that is called compost tea. Compost tea works excellent on flower pots and container-grown plants.
It is best to make compost at home because homemade compost is more effective and cheaper as compare to the commercial compost. Just buy a compost tumbler bin, collect the material to decompose and put it in the bin for a few days. Making compost is not a quick process it takes time. The time it takes depends upon the quantity of material that you want to decompose.
You can use compost accelerators to speed up the decomposition of the material.
Add compost to your garden in the spring and autumn season. This will speed up the healthy growth of vegetables and herbs. Moreover, compost is an organic form of slow-releasing fertilizer. Composting ensures the regular supply of nutrients to your growing plants.
The common types of animal manures are Cow, Horse, Sheep, and chicken. Every manure has a different type of nutrients. Also, they are not the same in nutritional balance. You need to know in-depth about animal manures before buying it. Let’s talk about the most commonly used animal manures.
This is the most widely used manure, it comes in bags and bulk. The manure is rich in organic matter and has high nitrogen content.
Horses can’t completely digest seeds like cows. So this manure has some advantages and disadvantages. If in your garden you are facing a weed grass problem than don’t use horse manure. It will increase your problem.
Chicken manures are a very rich and high source of nitrogen. The manure should be well rotted before use. Add it into the compost bins to speed up the decomposition and to get enrich final product.
Again, sheep manure is rich in nitrogen but also contains other organic nutrients. If sheep manure is easily available in your area, go for it. If it is hard to buy than choose chicken manure.
As the name suggests it is Rabbit manure. It has a high percentage of phosphorous and other organic matter. But is low in nitrogen, remember a high dosage of nitrogen can burn your plants.
If you are interested in using manure this spring than buy it from the organic farm. Because of the use of pesticides down the quality of manure. Never use fresh manure on your growing plants. This will burn them in a few days.
Using fresh manure on growing vegetables and herbs is not safe for humans. Because it introduces harmful pathogens to your growing food. It can be very dangerous if you eat pathogens contained food. If you are growing to buy truckload than choose half-rotted manure because you can buy it in fall and pile it until spring. This way you will have excellent manure for a long time.
On the other hand, commercially sold bagged manure is safe to use because it is sterilized in packing facilities. Bagged manures do not contain weed seeds and other unnecessary materials.
If gardening is your hobby then do not look for Vermicompost or worm compost. This is a costly idea and organic compost is the best affordable choice for hobby growers.
It is a controversial soil amendment but is often called a soil conditioner. It is light in weight with fluffy nature. Do an experiment in your garden, if you have dry peat moss, try to rewet it with water. You will see it is hard to rewet it. This means peat moss is not a good soil amendment for normal gardens. If you are growing succulents in pots than you can mix some amount of peat in the potting soil. otherwise do not amend your garden soil with it.
Peat does not contain nutrients like compost and manure. So why wasting money on such a product that has low quantity and quality of nutrients.
Compost will be best for home gardeners.
If you live near the sea than this will be your favorite garden soil amendment. Don’t need to collect the seaweed then bring it home and dug into the ground for days. Nowadays kelp meal is easily available in all parts of the country. Go to your local garden or nursery store. They will surely have bags of it. Buy ready to use kelp and add it to your vegetable and flower beds.
While planting seedlings use a handful of kelp in the potting mix. This will promote vigorous growth and you will have healthy vegetables and flowers.
Kelp is a good source of micronutrients and other trace elements. If your soil is overworked and you want to restore its fertility. Mix compost and kelp together and then amend your soil. This formula increases soil fertility to 100%.
Growers collect chopped leaves and dug them into the garden until the material convert into leaf mold. Leaf mold significantly improves the texture of soil, water holding capacity, and add a good amount of humus.
Making leaf mold at home is the same as making compost from kitchen and garden waste. The difference is in ingredients.
In leaf mold, you need two things one is leaves and the other is a wooden or wired compost bin. Always use shredded leaves first because they decompose quickly. Use properly shredded leaves and shred them by using leave shredder.
Then fill the compost bin with the leaves and water the mixture if the weather is dry. Turn the mixture every day with the garden fork. So that the fresh air goes into the mixture and speeds up the decomposing process. You will be shocked to know that it will take 1 to 3 years to turn chopped leaves into leaf mold.
If you can wait longer than it is a good idea to make leaf mold at home. Otherwise buy a bag of leaf mold from the market or order it online on Amazon.
Which is the best Bagged or bulk soil amendments?
It is totally depending upon the size of your garden. If you want to amend a large garden than buying it in bulk from a trusted source will be best. But if you only do gardening in the backyard then buy bagged amendments.
Before buying it in bulk consider a few questions
How much you need?
It is easily available in your area?
Does it cost any extra delivery fee?
It is coming from a reputed source?
If possible, check the quality and texture of the soil amendment if buying in bulk.
On the other hand, if you are buying bagged soil amendments than read the label carefully. If you don’t understand the label or number written on it, ask their staff.
Bagged amendments do not contain weed seeds because the companies sterilize it to make it a quality product.
Perfect time to improve the garden soil with garden soil amendments
I don’t wait until spring to amend my garden soil. In fact, I add soil amendments before spring in the last days of summer. Because soil takes time to break down this material and get ready for the spring season.
I amend my garden soil three times a year
Just before spring and add compost, kelp, and manure. Sometimes all three together and sometimes just one.
Between the successive crops, this maintains the fertility of soil high.
In fall when the growing season ends and we don’t have plants and crops to grow in winters.
I hope you will find this post helpful. If you have any questions feel free to ask us anytime.