Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tips for Amending Garden Soil Organically

Image: OakleyOriginals/Flickr
You don’t have to be a chemist or even a green thumb to amend the soil in your vegetable garden. With a few tips and the right tools, adding organic nutrients is easy. For hardcore gardeners, figuring out what the soil is lacking is the first step (this is done with a home soil test kit). For gardeners like me, who are easy going, adding amendments means tilling in a few inches of compost and calling it a day.

Types of Organic Soil Amendments

Year-Old Manure: Very important that it’s rotted so it doesn’t burn the roots of some plants or cause them to grow enormously but not produce any flowers, fruits or vegetables.

Finished Compost: “Black Gold” Finished compost does not have a rotted odor, rather it should smell like earth. It should be dark in color and be completely broken down with no chunks of decomposing material.

Store-Bought Organic Fertilizer: Really read the label on bags of “organic” fertilizers before buying them. Look for N-P-K ratios that are lower than 8 and stay away from ingredients such as superphosphate, nitrate, urea, phosphoric, ammonium, & muriate. (Garden Smarts)

Tips for Adding Organic Soil Amendments

  • When amending the soil using an organic fertilizer, remember that too much isn’t always a good thing 
  • ALWAYS follow the directions on bags of store bought fertilizers
  • If you can, add organic amendments in fall so they have time to absorb into the soil
  • Only use year-old or fully rotted manure to avoid burning, stunning or stunting vegetables
  • Follow my guide for How Much Compost to Add to the Vegetable Garden
  • Till organic soil amendments a good 4-6” into the ground

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