It doesn’t matter what you’re growing, building and bettering your soil is the secret to growing vibrant and delicious food and beautiful flowers.
Improving your soil doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some easy and simple ways you can start building better soil.
First things first, test your soil (even the home soil testing kit results are helpful).
You assume that your soil is most likely low in organic matter. Otherwise, don’t arbitrarily add any of these amendments until you know what your soil is lacking because you may be doing more damage than good.
Here are some things you can do to build better soil.
PH Level - most plants (vegetables and flowers like when the PH level of soil is between 6 and 7
If your PH is low you can add lime: Lime (calcium carbonate) is the most common soil amendment used to raise pH. It neutralizes acidity and provides essential nutrients for plants.You could also sprinkle ashes from your fireplace or fire pit; wood ash: Wood ash has a high pH and can be used to raise the pH of soil.
Low nitrogen: Nitrogen is necessary for healthy leaf growth, If the test results show that your soil is low in nitrogen, you can add alfalfa pellets, compost, blood meal, or cottonseed meal. Used coffee grounds can be a good source of nitrogen, they also help to improve soil structure and water retention.
Low phosphorus: Phosphorus is important for root growth and blooming, If the test results show that your soil is low in phosphorus, you can add bone meal or rock phosphate.
Low potassium: Potassium is important for strong stems and disease resistance, if the test results show that your soil is low in potassium, you can add wood ashes or greensand.There are other trace minerals/nutrients you can measure but these 3 are the ones that need the most attention.
Compost: Compost is a great source of nutrients and microorganisms that can help improve soil structure and fertility. Well rotted animal manure is a great source of organic matter. Manure should be well aged and not resemble poop in any way. It should look like rich soil and have no smell.
Green manure is a type of cover crop that is grown and then tilled into the soil to add organic matter, nutrients, and microorganisms to the soil. This is a very effective way to quickly better your soil without a soil test.
Worm Castings: Worm castings are the nutrient-rich excrement of earthworms, they are rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that can help improve soil health and fertility.
CAC Cation Exchange Capacity (soil’s ability to hold more water through soil structure)
Peat moss: Peat moss is a decomposed, partially decayed plant material that can help improve soil structure, water-holding capacity and aeration.
Leaf Mold: Leaf mold is a type of compost that is made from fallen leaves. It is rich in nutrients and can help improve soil structure and water retention.
Straw: Straw (not to be confused with hay) can be used as a mulch or soil amendment to help improve soil structure and water retention.
Start with small amounts of any of the above amendments - you can add too much of a good thing. ;-)