How do you turn your clay soil into something you can really grow in? You supplement your clay soil using soil amendments. What is a soil amendment? Soil amendments are products which help add organic material to the soil. Soil amendments are used to break up clay soils and to improve the water holding abilities of sandy soils by adding fiber to your existing soil. Adding organic material helps improve the structure of the soil, which allows better, stronger root development. Stronger root systems mean healthier plants and better yields in your vegetable garden. Adding organic material also helps lower the soil ph. Soil ph is a measure of how “sweet” or “sour” our soils are. For most of us, our garden soils are alkaline (sweet) with high levels of ph. Our plants do better in neutral or more acidic soils, because they can better use the fertilizers and nutrients better when the ph is right.
Adding earthworm castings at this point will increase soil microbial activity and also act as a mild fertilizer. How much do you need? One cubic foot bag of compost will cover about 15 square feet, 1" deep. A 100 square foot garden needs approximately 7 bags if you want to add an inch of organic material. Typically, you’ll want to add 1" to 2" of organics to your soil each season. Take your bags home, open them up and put them in a pile. It’ll make it easier to mix all your ingredients together. So now we have this pile of amendments including a bag of Sheep, Peat and Compost, some coir, earthworm castings and we’re going to dig it all in about 50:50 with our native soil. You need your native clay to be part of the mix because clay tends to be nutrient rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium. Amended clay also holds moisture well and doesn’t compact. Plan to amend your garden soil annually, spring and fall to keep it healthy. For more specific questions, stop in and talk to us. We’ll help you select exactly what you need for your garden.