In theory, you could go into your backyard, dig up a section, and plant a tomato plant seedling. Over time, that tomato plant would grow more prominent, develop yellow blossoms, and those blossoms would become tomatoes that you can harvest. It doesn’t always work out. Your seedling may not do well because its root system cannot expand due to a soil that has a lot of clay in it. You may have blossom end rot because there is a lack of calcium in the ground. There are many different scenarios for why your garden isn’t able to grow vibrant plants.
When your soil doesn’t have everything that a plant needs to grow, you’ll need to make additions to the ground so that it will be ready. This scenario is where soil amendments come into play. Learn more about what soil amendments are and how you can make the most of them.
What is Soil Amendment?
A soil amendment is something that you add to the dirt to make it more suitable for growing plants. Soil amendments can be used to address issues with aeration, nutrients, pH, and more. Each soil amendment has its own positives and negatives, so it’s often beneficial to determine what problem needs to be fixed before deciding on the proper amendment that you need to use.
Soil Erosion and Amendments
Soil erosion can take away much-needed minerals, nutrients, and other characteristics that make up fertile soil. The wind and other agents of erosion remove dirt from your garden, and this removal of the topsoil can negatively impact the makeup of the land. If you believe that your garden may have been adversely affected by soil erosion, it is time to look into the use of amendments.
Testing Your Soil
After you’ve noticed that your soil isn’t performing as it should, it’s time to determine what is wrong. It can be very beneficial to test your soil to see what is missing or in overabundance. Some gardeners think that adding a lot of fertilizer amendments are always a good move, but too much can be just as big an issue as not enough in the soil. That’s often why it’s better to start out testing the dirt before making any changes with the amendments.
There are testing kits that allow you to test your soil yourself to see what needs to be addressed, but you can also have it sent out to a lab to test. Once you’ve learned the cause behind your poor soil, you can choose what amendment you should use to fix it.
How Much Soil Amendment Do I Need?
The question when it comes to how much soil amendment you need will depend on a few factors. The most important factor is what are you using the amendment to address. For instance, if you are looking to change the pH value of your soil because it’s too acidic, you’ll add lime. Too much lime and your soil’s pH can be just as problematic as soil that’s too acidic. Not enough lime and your soil’s pH won’t change enough. In some cases, it can be a delicate balancing act to get the right amount added.
The instructions that come with the amendment can be essential in not going overboard with it. These instructions will typically tell you how much of the amendment you should add to a particular sized area. It will also tell you the specific way that you should apply it to get the most benefit from the amendment.
What is the Best Soil Amendment?
There are a large variety of soil amendments that can work wonders on an underperforming garden. You can find topsoil, garden soil, coconut coir, compost, compost tea, fertilizers, peat moss, manure, mushroom compost, lime, gypsum, and more.
The best soil amendments are the ones that will fix the issue that you’ve noticed. It can depend on the circumstances. For instance, container gardening does better with lighter soil compositions, so you may find that adding coconut coir to garden soil will give you the benefits from the coconut coir without weighing down the container.
Organic Soil Amendments
Organic soil amendments are any amendments that you add to the soil that don’t contain any human-made chemicals in them. They are entirely natural, and for many, believed to be a safer option. Farms and gardens that are deemed organic can only use organic amendments. Some examples of organic amendments include manure, leaf mold, mulch, compost, and bat guano.
Soil Amendments for Clay
Clay soil can be a real issue for gardeners. It often retains too much water, making proper drainage an issue, and can be too heavy for roots to grow into the soil thoroughly. This problem can usually be addressed by adding in an amendment to remove the negative impact that the clay can have on a garden.
Peat moss and coconut coir are two excellent amendments for dealing with soil that features a lot of dense clay. These amendments provide a couple of benefits. One is that they both help to add aeration to the dirt when mixed into the soil. It helps the earth have more air spaces for water to drain and roots to grow. It also can add mass to the land that allows it not to compact down easily. Another is that they help to retain moisture in the soil and slowly release it as needed for the plants growing.
You’ll want to mix a decent amount of coconut coir or peat moss into the soil before planting your crops for the upcoming growing season. Continue adding the amendment until you get to the point where the clay is no longer an issue. You may also consider adding some additional topsoil in equal parts if you’re working in a large area with a lot of clay.
Your garden can only perform as well as the soil it is growing in. Sometimes, the plants need a helping hand to get them to where they could be with the perfect conditions. Gardeners that want the biggest blooms on their roses or a big crop of vegetables should look into adding soil amendments when needed. These additions to the soil can make a world of difference for how well a garden will grow.