various of sprouting plants
ECO gardener

One might think that garden soil is enough to grow different plants but to increase your chances of success, you have to amend the soil after every growing season to replace depleted nutrients. This ensures that the next growing season will be as bountiful as the previous cycle.

What is the soil amending process, and what kinds of soil amendment materials to choose from? Most importantly, which soil amendment materials are best for your garden? Continue reading below to find out!

What is Soil Amendment?

hands holding soil

Soil amendment is the process of adding nutrient-rich additives into the soil to boost soil fertility. The soil amendment materials contain more nutrients for maximum growth. These additives are applied similarly to fertilizers to:

  • Raise or lower soil pH
  • Improve soil texture and consistency
  • Boost soil fertility
  • Promote better drainage
  • Boost air circulation

Fertile soil contains a complex mixture of organic matter, which microorganisms would process into essential nutrients for plants to absorb. To successfully grow different plants, the soil must be fertile, fluffy, and well-draining with the right pH level. By amending the soil, plants grow healthy and resilient.

What factors should be considered when selecting soil amendments?

While choosing a soil amendment, it is important to keep at least four things in mind: the duration of the amendment in the soil, the texture of the soil, the salinity of the soil and the sensitivity of the plants to salts, and the salt content and pH of the amendment.

Organic and Non-Organic Soil Amendment Products

Soil amendment materials can be organic or non-organic. Organic soil amendment materials are derived from animal and plant sources such as grass clippings, animal manure, worm castings, and composted kitchen waste.

Inorganic soil amendment materials are designed to improve soil texture or rebalance the soil's pH level. These materials include vermiculite, pea gravel, sand, rubber chunks (commonly tire), and perlite.

Inorganic soil amendment materials are primarily used to improve the texture of the soil by boosting air circulation. These do not break down nor bring nutrients back into the soil.

Types of Soil Amendment Materials

Soil amendment products are available in different formulations. The key ingredients are:

  • Blood Meal
  • Peat Moss
  • Perlite
  • Lime & Sulfur
  • Bone Meal
  • Compost
  • Humic Acids
  • Seaweed Extract

Blood Meal: This product is derived from animal blood, particularly pig and cow blood collected at slaughterhouses. Animal blood is rich in nitrogen and iron, which are essential nutrients for healthy plant growth. It is also used to boost soil acidity. Blood meal is best used for growing green, leafy vegetables. It's also recommended for growing big plants like trees and shrubs.

Peat Moss: Most potting soil mixes contain peat moss - a type of plant that grows in peatlands. Peat moss boosts soil fertility and helps plants develop strong, healthy roots. Peat moss is best applied to acidic soils to neutralize the pH. It's also ideal for soils that are too dense, like clay soils. Peat moss improves soil texture, loosens compaction, and boosts air circulation.

Perlite: Perlite is a volcanic mineral added to garden soils to boost air circulation, prevent compaction, and improve water retention and drainage. This material is recognizable for its white granules in potting mixes and is one of the most commonly used soil amendment materials. Perlite is best used to amend very dense soils and is perfect for growing bulbs because it promotes strong roots.

Lime & Sulfur: lime and Sulfur are used to lower and increase soil acidity, respectively. These materials are naturally occurring, so they are perfectly safe to use as soil amendment material. Use lime for growing plants that thrive in alkaline soils and Sulfur to grow acid-loving crops. Add these materials as needed to maintain a specific pH level and test the soil regularly to monitor the acidity level.

Bone Meal: Rich in phosphorus and calcium, bone meal is derived from animal bones. The animal bones are collected in slaughterhouses as waste and then finely or coarsely ground into a powder. The phosphorus and calcium in bone meal support microbial activity and promote bigger fruits and blooms in various plants. Bone meal is best applied early in spring and late in the fall season.

Compost: Compost is derived from decayed kitchen scraps and yard waste, particularly carbon-rich dry leaves, plant stalks, hay, and twigs, as well as nitrogen-rich grass clippings, vegetable peels, and food scraps. Once ready to use, composted materials turn into a dark, crumbly soil-like material that's added into the soil to boost fertility and promote healthy plant growth.

Humic acid: Humic acids are organic molecules derived from broken-down organic matter. This product has been used in organic farming for decades because of the molecules' uncanny ability to alter the fixation properties of the soil. As soil amendment material, humic acids neutralize acidic and alkaline soils, optimize plant nutrient uptake, and improve soil fertility and structure.

Seaweed extract: Marine plants are a rich source of essential nutrients and trace minerals that promote healthy plant growth. Seaweed and kelp are collected and processed to create a potent soil amendment product that dissolves quickly in water. Seaweed extract can be applied directly into the soil, around the base of plants, or diluted in water as foliar spray or root dip.

Which Soil Amendment Does My Garden Need?

To determine what soil amendment products suit your garden, you must conduct soil testing. Soil testing lets you solve your soil's specific issues, like nutrient deficiencies, texture, etc. You can use a soil testing kit to conduct the test or use any of the DIY soil testing methods to find out what soil amendment materials are needed to improve your garden soil.

The easiest way to test your garden soil is the squeeze test. Get a handful of soil and squeeze for a second or two. Open your hand and check how quickly or slowly the soil breaks up. If soil breaks up as soon as you open your hand, the soil is loose and sandy. The soil is dense if it doesn't break up, even with a firm poke. If it holds its shape but breaks up by poking, the soil has excellent structure and consistency for gardening.

You can also check for earthworms by digging up a one-foot wide and deep hole. Sift through the soil and check how many earthworms. If the soil contains a lot of earthworms, that's a clear sign that your garden soil can support plant growth. Finally, get a pH test kit and other soil testing kits to check your garden soil regularly.

It will take time to correct certain deficiencies, so it's possible to use multiple soil amendment materials in a single session. Whatever soil amendment products you use, be sure it's from a trusted source. We also advise using natural soil amendment products like humic acids, compost, seaweed extract, worm castings, and blood meal.

humic acid and seaweed extract

Shop for all-natural, organic soil conditioners at ECOgardener. Check out our online store for amazing deals on soil amendment products.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment