Soil amendments are materials added to the soil to improve soil health and plant growth. The types of amendments that are added depend on various soil conditions such as soil type (clay, loam, sandy, etc.), climate, soil nutrient level, and plant type. Understanding your soil is important in determining what type of amendments to add.
Additionally, if you want to get your organic garden off to a good start, then begin with a reliable soil test. Testing your soil will take the guesswork out of ‘what your soil needs’, and in the long run, saves money, time and effort. A healthy soil produces healthy plants and healthy plants are more resistant to insect damage and disease.
All soils will benefit from organic gardening compost. Compost helps neutralize soils with extreme conditions. If the soil is sandy and has rapid drainage, compost can help the structure by adding more bulk with humus and organic matter and increase the soil’s water holding abilities. Compost increases porosity of soils with fine soil structure (clay, clay-loam) by adding humus and organic matter. Compost will also make these fine-textured soils easier to work with and erosion resistant.
Cover crops are annual, biennial or perennial plants grown directly in your garden to improve the health of your soil and then turned over or mowed to allow the primary plants to be grown. Cover crops help fix and trap soil nutrients, and like compost, add organic matter. They are an essential element of organic gardening.
Organic fertilizers are derived (or manufactured) from naturally occurring sources such as manure, fish emulsion, and bone meal, and are a great source of targeted nutrients. While organic fertilizers can be expensive they are much healthier for your soil than synthetic and non-organic fertilizers.