Adding soil amendments or nutrients is key work having a productive and sustainable garden. Using lime is a great way to raise your soil pH level without compromising your soil. Lime, when mixed with soil is an effective and easy way to organically enrich garden soil. You can add lime to large area by rototilling the soil and adding lime. For small areas you can simple use garden tools (spade, rake, etc…) to work the lime into the soil. Be careful when working around vegetation, don’t dig too deeply or harshly—you don’t want to inadvertently damage the any root systems.
Soils with lots of clay or organic material will require more lime to change pH levels. If you need to drastically lower your soil pH level you might try aluminum sulfate. You can achieve the same results organically by planting rhododendrons. Be sure to have the soil tested before you take any action. Having baseline results is key to adjusting your soil pH level. See our pH chart for more information.
You have many choices when it comes to adding potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)—the three key nutrients plants need to survive. Nitrogen is vital for strong green growth, but be careful—too much nitrogen can limit flowering and fruit production. Potassium and phosphorus is used by the root system and seed to resist disease.
If your soil does not need drastic fertilization, composing may be all you need to enrich your soil. Compared to commercial fertilizers, composting has lower nutritional value. Composting is cheaper and a more organic method to enrich your soil. Loose composted enriched soil is a great habitat for earthworms and other microorganisms that naturally enrich the soil. This natural enrichment is gradual—the natural process is better for vegetation.
Composting won’t “burn” plants while the soil enrichment process changes the soil. A great way to enrich the soil is to apply manure to deficient soil. Make sure manure is composted—fresh manure may be too strong for plants. When composing manure be sure to avoid runoff. Manure runoff can contaminate waterways. You can also use green manure to enrich soil. Green manures are old crops (plants) that are tilled into the soil. The green manure then releases nitrogen and other nutrients back into the soil.