Amending your soil is a must of you want to have healthy, rich, living soil that nourishes your plants so they grow their best. When you grow plants, whether it’s food, flowers or herbs, they use up nutrients in the soil that need replacing for the next round of plantings. When it comes right down to it, soil and soil health are the foundations of our health and the health of gardens. Amending your soil in the autumn helps your spring garden thrive. I want to share with you a few of my top organic soil amendment recommendations with you.
My absolute number one recommendation is organic compost. I absolutely LOVE compost and it’s many benefits. Quality compost is filled with nutrients, microbes, fungi and bacteria. It retains moisture and helps with soil structure. You can make your own or buy it in bulk from a trusted soil supplier. I use compost as my mulch instead of straw or wood chips. I simply add 2-3 inches of it before planting each season. I also add a good 3 inch layer in autumn on any beds that will not be planted throughout the winter. Adding compost in autumn gives it enough time for nutrients to break down and blend into the soil. Composting is a natural process that happens all the time in nature. There are different methods to create compost that vary on time, your size of space and whether you are actively participating in turning the compost or letting it sit untouched. There are many, many resources about how to make your own, if you would like to see something from me, let me know in the comments! I recommend the book: “The Complete Compost Gardening Guide” written by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin It takes you through the steps of setting up your compost system as well as different ways to make compost.
My second favorite amendment is worm castings. Worm castings are basically worm poop. Instead of waiting for nature to slowly break down your compost, the worms eat your compost and produce their castings for you. You can either have your own worm farm where you collect the castings yourself or you can buy bags of it. There are many systems you can use to make your own worm farm. With winters getting cold and snowy here in Colorado, I have not ventured into vermicomposting, (vermicast/vermicastings is another term used for worm castings). Earth worms are used in vermicomposting and can eat many things you would normally compost. There is certain food waste, you will not want to add to a vermicompost system. Adding worm castings is like giving your soil a little dose of nutrition and organic matter to help with soil structure. What’s special about worm castings is that they contain nutrients that worms have broken down in a way that is better be taken up by plants. There is an entire section in the book I mentioned above that goes into setting up your own vermicomposting system. I prefer to buy bags of it, a little goes a long way in your garden. Follow the recommendations on the bag for application.
These are my top two recommendations for soil amendments, there are however many, many more to choose from. These happen to be my favorite choices for my organic gardens whether it’s the raised bed kitchen garden, trough containers or flower/herb beds. I would love to know what you prefer, let me know in the comments. Also if you are overwhelmed with starting your garden, you can book a coaching session with me and get your most pressing questions answered! You can find more information here: Garden Coaching