While congress might be on vacation from a rigorous session of doing nothing, you can follow in the footsteps of our nation’s founding fathers by creating your own amendments… to the soil that is.
Amendments can help one or multiple jobs of the soil.
They can help hold in moisture.
Help soil aeration
Provide a better hold for young roots.
Provide long term, slow release nutrient availability.
So how do you know if you need any amendments? By sight and feel.
Look at the soil in your planting area. How does it look? Is it nice and dark or does it seem dusty and ashy like campfire residue?
Grab a handful. How does it feel? Does it feel moist and crumbly like a crumbly cupcake, or is it dusty like flour?
If you think your soil leans to ashy flour, then it’s a good idea to amend the soil.
Amending the soil is a very simple process. The hardest part is deciding what to amend it with.
Here are some basic choices:
I’ll also add in salad fixings and egg shells.
Perlite and Vermiculite will resemble either clean or dirty Styrofoam shavings. Both are made from rock and hold moisture very well. Their multiple “pockets” slowly release the moisture into the soil and provide oxygen to the plants. Bought in bags, it is quickly spread and easily tilled into the soil.
Tree bark, Pine needles, and Sphagnum moss will give young roots a better hold into the soil while providing wither better moisture or aeration to the soil as well. Be careful though as they are all acidic to some degree and can change the PH of your soil. Being plant material all three offer a very slow release of nutrients.
Wood ash adds nitrogen to your soil and will help break up clay intensive soil mixes.
Egg shells add calcium and salad fixings add organic matter as well as nutrients into the soil as they rot. It may sound silly to say this, but make sure when burying the salad fixings that you don’t bury any seeds. If it’s in a flower area, you just planted weed seeds and if in the vegetable garden, you’ve most likely planted a competing plant that doesn’t produce as well. (unless your salad is created from heirloom vegetables)
Egg shells should be crushed up as small as possible to help release the calcium into the soil.
I like to amend the soil after the harvest. I’m already disturbing the soil and it gives the amendments time to “settle” before the next planting season.
Also, don’t be afraid to chop up the rest of the plants and till them into the soil as well. They create great compost to the soil and recycle some of the nutrients they took out while growing.