Organic gardening soil amendments are materials added to the soil to enrich the soil fertility and structure. There are three methods of adding organic gardening soil amendments to your soil.
All three methods for adding organic gardening soil amendments can be used in your garden or choose any one method that works best for you. Adding in the organic matter will increase your soil fertility giving you healthier vegetable plants and a more productive harvest.
This is a leguminous plant used for fodder, pasture and cover crop. It comes in crushed or pellet form. Purchase alfalfa meal or pellets at animal feed stores. Some garden nurseries may sell it as well.
Bark - This can be purchased in garden centers, shredded in your own garden, or often given away by local tree trimming businesses. Use finely chipped bark because it covers the soil better not allowing weeds to grow. Try to use hard wood bark if you can get it. Cedar is best not used in your garden beds as it has oils in it that are not good for your plants. Instead use cedar chips or bark on our pathways to suppress weed growth.
Blood Meal - This can be purchased at garden centers or at animal feed stores.
Bone meal - This is made from crushed animal bone and can be purchased at any garden center or nursery.
Coffee Grounds - Check with your local coffee shop as they will often give away their coffee grounds rather than put them in the garbage.
Dolomite Lime - This is a compound containing calcium and/or magnesium. It can be purchased at your local garden center or nursery.
Fish Fertilizer - This can be purchased at your local garden center or nursery.
Grass Clippings - Keep your own clippings or ask neighbors for theirs. Make sure the grass has not been chemically fertilized or it cannot be used as an organic gardening soil amendment.
Greensand - Is also known as glauconite. This is an ancient seabed deposit containing some potassium and has a broad spectrum of micro-nutrients. This can be purchased at garden centers and nurseries.
Hay or Straw - Find a local farmer who grows and cuts from their own fields or can also be purchased at some garden centers or animal feed stores.
Kitchen Scraps - Collecting your own kitchen waste (not including any meat products) is probably the easiest. Often you can pick up vegetable waste from grocery stores or local restaurants so if you are looking for more than you can produce check these out.
Leaves - Any type of leaves will work well as an organic gardening soil amendment. I collect leaves in the fall from neighbors and areas near where I live. I then crush them by running them over with my lawn mover or weed eater. I then place them directly on my garden beds or store them to be added to my compost over the winter. Brassicas grow well in beds where composted leaves are added.
Manure - Animal waste can be purchased at garden centers and nurseries by the bag. It is best to find a local organic animal farmer who is willing to give away or sell his animal waste. Any animal manure is great to use except for dog or cat feces. Check out what manure is best for your garden.
Peat Moss - This is partially decomposed plant life taken from bogs and used as a rooting medium or soil conditioner. This organic gardening soil amendment can be purchased at garden centers and nurseries.
Phosphate Rock - This is finely ground, natural rock powder. It is one of the three major plant nutrients. It is designated by the letter P.
Potash Rock - This is crushed rock and another one of the three major plant nutrients. It is designated by the letter K.
Sawdust - This is the waste left from cutting wood. It is best to use any sawdust except for cedar in your garden beds. Cedar sawdust has oils that are not good for your veggies, so use it only in your pathways. This can be purchased at garden centers or at sawmills if you have any in your area.
Seaweed - This is a sea plant that is washed up on beaches usually after big storms. It is most available in the fall and winter months and is a great organic gardening soil amendment.
Tea Grounds -
Weeds - These will add green matter to your compost pile. Make sure you only use weeds that have not gone to seed and have no disease. Destroy others so they do not contaminate your compost.
Wood Ash - This is the grayish powder left after wood has been burned. After cleaning out your wood stove or wood burning fireplace place the ash on your garden beds or in the compost.
Wood Chips - This is bark, just in larger pieces. Check with your local tree trimming companies to see if they are giving it away or it can be purchased at local garden centers and nurseries.
Adding organic gardening soil amendments is an important step to creating a healthy garden soil. Check out my
6 steps to a vegetable garden.