5 Ways to Enrich Your Garden Soil
While some gardens are blessed with perfect soil most are less than ideal. Even the best soil eventually becomes depleted of nutrients after several years of planting. Your garden relies on a number of important elements to create a beautiful show of blooms and a bumper crop of vegetables. If your garden is sandy, acidic or full of heavy clay you can create a healthy environment by amending the soil with the right components. Here are four easy ways to improve your garden for the upcoming growing season.
Composting is a great way to reuse garbage scraps and keep them out of the landfill. Compost will boost your soil’s nutrients and improve its overall quality. These organic materials are comprised of decomposed matter such as vegetable peels, fruit waste, coffee and tea grounds, grass clippings, eggshells and leaves.
To get the mix just right use an equal amount of green and brown matter. Adding earthworms will assist the other microorganisms by aerating the soil and supplying valuable oxygen. Amend your soil with the compost in preparation for spring planting.
Don’t turn your nose up at manure. Believe it or not it is nitrogen rich and is the best and healthiest way to improve your soil versus chemical fertilizers. Cow, chicken, rabbit, horse and sheep manure contains a variety of other nutrients like phosphorus and potassium from herbivorous animal waste.
This type of crude fertilizer must be steam treated to kill harmful bacteria and aged properly by allowing it to dry completely. Mix it well into your soil several weeks before planting.
3. Cover Crops
If you don’t prefer animal manure, cover crops are just as effective. In agricultural terms, cover crops also known as green manure are made up of plants plowed under and mulched back into the soil to improve its structure and fertility. Green manure is a common practice in organic gardening.
Use buckwheat and lacy phacelia in the summer and vetch, daikon, and clover in the fall. Once these crops emerge and flower it’s time to quickly work them into the soil. As the plant waste decomposes under the surface it will continually enrich the soil throughout the growing season.
4. Wood Ash
Take leftover ash from your fireplace or wood stove and save it to boost your garden soil. Not many people know about using wood ash as a fertilizer. It provides important micronutrients and helps absorb toxins within in the soil.
Ash is made up of small percentages of potassium, lime, phosphorus, magnesium, aluminum and sodium. Due to the small amounts of elements, wood ash is often referred to as a low-grade fertilizer but it works very well in conjunction with other amendments. The ashes also improve acidic soil by raising the pH.
5. Mineral Fertilizers
Shell meal fertilizer consists of pulverized bones and shells from crabs and a variety of shellfish. It's a good source of calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals for your backyard garden. Shellfish fertilizer also has chitin from crustaceans which naturally discourages harmful garden parasites and nematodes.
Another mineral called rock phosphate is a slow release fertilizer. It contains phosphorous, lime, calcium, and trace elements. The stone is crushed into small particles that won't filter through the soil. Its mineral content remains stable until plant roots absorb nutrients from the pulverized rock.
Iron potassium silicate, known as greensand is an organic fertilizer found in shallow sea beds that consists of marine deposits. It is a popular organic fertilizer and conditioner that helps soil retain water and improves plant health. The smooth light green grains of sand are rich in potassium, iron and a range of micronutrients.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2019 Linda Chechar