Deciphering Soil Amendments
By Heather O’Bryan
Installing plants in your yard can be quite relaxing, especially during Spring. The sights of the blooming flowers and the birds chirping would make anyone with cabin fever happy to be outside.
But there is one thing that can stress a gardener right out, and that’s what amendments to use when planting these new plants. Do you use a fertilizer? What do you use to level the pH? What the heck is blood meal!?
Well never fear Mr. or Ms. gardener, here is a list of amendments and what they are used for. For best results, make sure to get a soil test first to make sure you even need these amendments.
Blood Meal – This amendment is actually a plant food high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is a macronutrient that helps in growing foliage, so use it for your leafy veggies and perennials that mostly grow pretty leaves. It is a slaughterhouse by product so if you are vegan, you might want to avoid using it in the vegetable garden.
Bone Meal – Another slaughterhouse by product, this one is used for the introduction of phosphorus, a macronutrient that promotes the production of flowers and fruit. Use this fertilizer on annuals to make them bloom all Summer long and your veggies to get a bigger, better fruit yield.
Calcium Nitrate – This amendment helps with tomatoes and other veggies that suffer from blossom end rot. By introducing more calcium to the plant, it will cure the disease.
Kelp Extract – This organic food is harvested from the sea and is an incredible source of nutrients for all plants. It can also be found as kelp meal, but for immediate results, use a water soluble form. Water it in and watch your plants flourish.
Worm Castings – There is a reason soil that is inhabited by worms is so rich and dark. The worms eat decomposing matter and eliminate their waste in the soil, making it one of the ultimate soil amendments. Add worm castings as a compost in any planting.
Composts – Organic matter is key to a rich, nutritious and vibrant soil, so when installing a new plant, it is always good to throw some compost into the hole. There are many different sources of compost like cow manure, chicken manure, mushroom compost and more. They all work great so use your judgement on what kind to use.
Lime – Check your soil test for your current pH. If it is low, also known as acidic, lime can help raise it to a more manageable level. A good pH level ensures good plant growth.
Sulphur – Alternatively, if your soil pH is too high, or alkaline, you will need to lower it. Products that include sulphur will do the trick nicely.
Amendments can get confusing when first learning how to garden. There are so many different products made to feed your plants and improve the soil around their precious roots. Hopefully this list will help you decide what you need for your own plants.