Soil amendments are great for helping improve soil structure, provide nutrients, and promote healthy plant growth. If you’re not sure where to start with them, here’s your gardener’s guide to soil amendments!
Why Add Soil Amendments?
Soil is a complex ecosystem containing minerals, organic materials, and countless organisms. What makes up soil varies from region to region, and even yard to yard. When you add amendments to soil, it’s to help change and improve it. They can add more nutrients to the soil, as well as modify the condition of the soil itself. When used properly, soil amendments alter the soil so growing becomes simpler. A few benefits of using amendments are:
- Increased soil organic matter
- Improved texture and structure of soil
- Increased moisture holding capacity of soil
- Promote healthy plant growth
- Improve soil aeration
How Do You Know What Soil Amendments Your Garden Needs?
Even the best soil will eventually need to be replenished with nutrients and amended. When you use the soil for heavy feeding plants, reuse the same soil over and over, and eventually deal with soil compaction, your soil will need to be reenergized. But how do you know what your soil needs? There are a lot of soil amendments out there. The best way to know what it needs is with a soil test.
A soil test is a window into the health of your soil and provides you with information like its pH, organic matter percentage, and any nutrient deficiencies it may have. There are a few ways to get a soil test. You can purchase a home testing kit and do it yourself, or if you want a more in-depth analysis of your soil, use the CSU Soil Testing Lab. You take a sample, mail it in with a submission form, and they’ll send you back your comprehensive results. Whichever way you choose to get your test done, your results will help you understand your soil and what nutrients are insufficient.
When Should You Add Amendments?
Gardeners tend to add amendments to their soil in spring, but you don’t need to wait until then to improve your soil. You can add amendments in late summer and autumn. Adding it in the fall gives the soil time to break the new materials down so your plants can easily take advantage in the spring.
It’s really all about finding what your soil is lacking and amending when needed. In the spring before you plant, you can use compost or kelp meal to feed your soil. Or, between successive crops, you can add a light application of compost to maintain high soil fertility. Or in the fall, once you’ve cleaned up vegetable beds, you can dig in amendments to slowly break down and improve the soil structure and fertility over the winter.
Amending with Organic Soil Amendments
At Beaver Lakes Nursery, we believe the best amendments are natural and organic, especially if you’re growing plants that you’re going to consume. We provide a variety of organic amendments for gardeners to use. Let’s go over just a few of the products we carry and what they do.
Kelp is extremely rich in micronutrients and plant hormones that promote vigorous growth. It contains high amounts of iodine, potassium, magnesium, and iron, as well as vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, Omega 3 fats, etc. Since kelp has all this goodness, it’s beneficial at several stages of a plant’s growth, including root development, bud set, and veg growth. It can be mixed into the soil or used as a foliar spray.
If your plants are suffering from a nitrogen deficiency, blood meal is an excellent option for you. It is a strong and fast-acting nitrogen fertilizer that can also act as a pest deterrent. While a great nitrogen source, you need to be careful using it. It’s a concentrated form of nitrogen and excessive use can impede flowering, burn plants, or worse yet, kill them.
Gypsum modifies soil without making significant changes to the soil pH as it increases water penetrations, loosens compacted clay soil, and promotes easier root penetration. It’s also a great source of sulfur and calcium, which plants require.
Simply put, worm casting as worm manure. While it doesn’t sound that appealing, they are extremely beneficial for soil. They stimulate plant growth more than any other product, enhance the ability of your soil to retain water, and inhibit root diseases such as root rot. The miracles of worm castings are easily seen in your plants’ beautiful growth and yields. This soil amendment is great for use in your entire garden.
Let Beaver Lakes Nursery Provide What You Need
We hope this helps you understand how soil amendments work! If you need organic amendments for your garden, we can provide what you need. And if you need some gardening advice, we are happy to provide that as well! Beaver Lakes Nursery & Landscape Supply is located in beautiful Montrose, Colorado, and we can’t wait to help you grow!