If you plan to grow crops or have a garden on your land, the quality of your soil can have a big impact. Particularly in urban and suburban areas, soils can be compacted and may lack the necessary organic matter to properly nourish plants and allow them to thrive. The best way to improve neglected soil is through soil amending.
Soil amending is the simple process of adding organic material back into your soil to improve its health. There are three common types of soil amendments:
Biosolids are digested pieces of solid material extracted from the wastewater treatment process. While this might not sound like something you’d want to add to your garden, it’s actually one of the most effective soil amendments available. In addition to being completely recycled and full of the organic nutrients, nothing can improve your soil more.
The EPA holds biosolids to extremely stringent standards. Most municipalities treat their biosolids to a Class B standard, which is safe for farmland, but should be avoided by urban gardeners. However, many cities are now creating Class A biosolids that can be used anywhere, so be sure to check that the biosolids you’re using are appropriate for your location and purposes. Biosolids can be purchased in smaller quantities at most lawn and garden stores, and many are sold in bulk directly from the water resource recovery facilities where they are produced.
Most people are familiar with composts, and you may even have a compost pile in your own backyard. Compost is essentially any organic material that has decomposed into a state where it can be added to soil. Composts are commonly made from lawn clippings, fruit and vegetable waste and leaves, though anything that was once alive can be turned into compost over time. Composts can be purchased from lawn and garden stores, by keeping a compost pile on your property, or increasingly from cities and counties that produce their own.
If there’s one thing farmers have a never-ending supply of, it’s manure. Luckily it can give your soil a great boost in nutrients. To obtain manure, talk with your local agriculture organizations to see if they can give you a list of farms willing to share their manure with you.
How to Use Amendments
Though amendments can be added to your soil at any time, they’re best added in the spring before planting or in the fall before the garden goes dormant for the winter. Adding amendments is very simple. Just spread two to three inches of amendments around the desired area and work it into the soil using a shovel or tiller.
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