Soil amendments for your organic vegetable garden! Amendments make your foundation, good soil, better. If you don’t have healthy, rich soil alive with good microbes, bacteria and organic materials you’re not going to have much of a harvest. I have a list of my favorites that I’ve used with success. You won’t need them all! I always recommend starting with the ones that you can get for free or nearly free first. Then consider testing your soil with a kit or using and seeing what additives would benefit you the most.
Soil Amendments: Azomite – Azomite (pronounced ā-zō-mite) stands for A to Z Of Minerals Including Trace Elements. This fine powder is going to give your soil mineral power. Slow releasing, Azomite will give your soil back the minerals that have been depleted over time. Minerals in your soil means minerals in your veggies, which means minerals in YOU! For more information about Azomite as soil amendments see Azomite.com.
Soil Amendments: Blood Meal – Blood meal is a dry power made from the blood of animals. It is a wonderful general fertilizer but it is especially great at adding nitrogen to soil. Blood meal will make your Brassica crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale) extremely happy and will boost nitrogen for your onions and garlic as well. I do recommend using blood meal from an organic source.
Soil Amendments: Bone Meal – Bone meal is a powder made from the grinding down of bones. This amendment adds phosphorous to your soil which helps your vegetable garden’s seed and root growth. It can be mixed into soil an overall improvement or just as the vegetables (and fruits) are beginning to bloom. When soil lacks phosphorous you’ll notice that plants grow and mature more slowly than expected. For more detailed information see Bone Meal in Your Vegetable Garden
Soil Amendments: Coffee Grounds – As a coffee drinker I have plenty of used grounds to add to my garden; but if you don’t have it check with friends and coffee shops! In your garden, coffee will boost organic material, add nitrogen, help the microorganism health, AND attract worms to aerate your soil. And if that wasn’t enough coffee will also aid in keeping pests like slugs, snails and ants away! See more about Recycling Coffee on the Homestead.
Soil Amendments: Homemade Compost – This is probably the least expensive soil amendment out there! Homemade compost is comprised of your food and yard waste that improves soil quality and slowly releases nutrients into the soil. For more about getting started with compost go to Composting 101.
Soil Amendments: Fish Fertilizer – Fish emulsion is a debatable soil additive for some gardeners but I have seen very positive results from using a liquid combination of fish emulsion and sea weed as an organic fertilizer. I find it easier to add into the soil than a granular based product too. Sure it stinks…but I just smell better, healthier garden in there. This amendment is a good general purpose fertilizer that is fast-acting and water soluble.
Soil Amendments: Leaves – Leaves are a great additive to your compost pile by adding organic material and nutrition; but you can also used the directly in your vegetable garden. But leaves can also be used as a mulch in your garden and raised beds. Leaf mulch will help keep your soil cool in hot months as well as discourage weed growth. Collect them from your yard and anyone else that doesn’t treat with any chemicals. If you’re a patient gardener then look into creating leaf mold for your garden.
Soil Amendments: Rabbit Droppings – Rabbit manure adds several key ingredients into your soil; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Additional rabbit droppings help with retaining moisture, drainage and soil quality. It boosts micro-nutrients and won’t burn your plants even when added directly to soil without composting first. If you’re raising meat or pet rabbits then you’ll have an endless supply of these power nuggets. If not you could probably offer to clean a few cages once a week for a free bag! Consider making Rabbit Manure Tea!
Soil Amendments: Vermiculite – Vermiculite gives your soil the ability to hold on to water longer. This is particularly helpful if you have in a dry climate, like I do in Arizona, or during seasons with less rain. Vermiculite is the soil sponge that retains moisture for your soil. If you live in an area that gets lots of rain, this probably isn’t the soil amendment for you. The only issue with vermiculite is that it isn’t an upfront cost-effective amendment, but can actually save you in the long run.
Soil Amendments: Worm Castings – Worm castings is really just worm poo. But it is power poo for the vegetable gardener! In my opinion it is the best amendment for your money, whether you buy it or set up a worm farm to make your own. Worm castings don’t stink like other animal manures, they are slower releasing of their nitrogen and help your soil to absorb more water. It will also add tons of beneficial bacteria and microbes into the soil.