hi I’m Steven Orr, we gardeners love
beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables but to get those beautiful
flowers and delicious vegetables it takes a little science and that’s where
soil amendments come in. Anyone who’s walked into a garden center
has seen the bags of synthetic or organic fertilizer with three numbers on
them. Sometimes it’s 10 10 10 or 5 10 15, those three numbers relate to the three
substances that are in the fertilizer that we’re buying them for the N is
nitrogen the P is phosphorus and the K is
potassium all three of those work together to give your plants
approximately what they need with a bunch of other micronutrients which
we’re going to talk about today which create the perfect environment for your
plants buying a fertilizer is as easy as picking up one of those bags but as long
as gardeners have been gardening they’ve also been trying to figure out how to
improve their soil most of us it’s kind of a evolving process we’re always
trying to figure out what kind of soil we have one easy way to know what you
have and actually the best way so you can be more precise is to buy a soil
testing kit at a garden center you can also buy it online for an even more
scientific approach you can send your soil off to your local Agricultural
Extension agency and that way they can test it for you they’ll give you a full
report just go online and find out where your Extension agent is usually it’s
attached to a university once you get your report back then you can start to
figure out what you’re lacking if you’re lacking nitrogen phosphorous or
potassium but you also need to make sure that your soil has the right texture one
of the best ways that gardeners love to improve the texture of their soil but
also fertility is to use compost. I like to make my own it makes me feel a lot
less guilty when I come home from a trip and I have a refrigerator with some
rotting vegetables or old lettuce in it I love composting those things I feel a
little better that it’s going to be going into my garden it’s very easy you
can buy a composter and make the compost that you want at home you can also buy
it bagged compost is this beautiful soil like substance some people call it black
gold that’s the kind of gardeners name for it it is you really can’t have too
much compost you can overuse it if you put it too
near the base of your plants you don’t want to burn them so keep it away from
the base of the plant but also apply it fairly liberally
especially in the spring in the fall. Another soil amendment that works for
texture is peat peat is made from peat bogs it is a nice friable tribals the
term we use for soil when it’s very loose and aerated it’s not a heavy clay
soil it’s not a sandy soil it is a soil that’s the right texture so peat and
compost both help you get to the right soil texture but when you’re using peat
be aware that it does have some environmental concerns because those
peat bogs are a finite resource and you can look online for other substitutes
that might help aerate the soil another soil aeration is green sand green sand
is mined off the bottom of the ocean in shallow areas its occurs around the
world it once again is a finite resource if you’re worried about the
environmental concerns you can google and figure out if this is something you
want to use but gardeners have been using green sand for hundreds of years
it both helps with soil texture but it also helps because the green sand
absorbs a lot of water and it has the ability to also infuse your garden and
your soil with potassium another area that you can find nutrients for your
garden usually bagged and sold in the garden center are animal by-products now
these can be controversial particularly for vegetarians so you know go online
and do a little research about what you think about using them but they’ve been
used for a long time to add different key elements to the garden
obviously manure is a big one manure is not that controversial because it is
just a byproduct from animals it does need to be well composted so that it can
be mellower and not so harsh for plants so you do want to buy composted manure
if you do buy manure other byproducts include bone meal which is this
substance here bone meal is a good source of calcium it adds some protein
it also adds some phosphorus and people use it a lot in the spring when they’re
planting bulbs also there’s blood meal blood meal is high in nitrogen
one more animal dry product is fish emulsion it’s one of my favorites it’s a
liquid comes into the bottle it’s a byproduct of fish processing and
it’s a high source of nitrogen as well I use it diluted in water for a lot of my
vegetables it smells pretty horrible for a day or two and then the smell
dissipates pretty quickly over time but you might want to warn your neighbors
before you use it these are something that if you’re using them you definitely
want to wear a mask and you want to keep in mind some of those environmental and
issues that we spoke about another byproduct is back Llano this is
something that’s mine out of caves it is good for improving soil texture it also
is good for phosphorus as well and many studies show that it is a natural
fungicide if you’re having a situation in your garden where you’re getting a
lot of fungus on your plants a lot of different types of fungi that are
affecting Lea on the leaves or the flower blooms some of the other
amendments come from non-animal sources there’s a wide range you know we’re
showing you a selection here kind of a small buffet there’s an even bigger
buffet you could go at there just a long list of them but some of them are
byproducts of other industries this is a alfalfa meal alfalfa meal is a byproduct
of alfalfa processing it’s a great source of nitrogen as well it also helps
with soil texture and the fry ability or the looseness of the soil another one
along the same lines is kelp or kelp meal it is dried seaweed that’s been
ground up and it’s a great source of potassium and as an ocean product it
does give great nutrients a lot of different kinds of minerals that can go
into the soil a lot of organic gardeners really focus on micronutrients as a
great source of getting the best performance from your plants and
particularly flavor because as we’ve gardened over the last 100 years and
done agriculture we’ve some people think we have lost some of the micronutrients
that we used to have in our produce so adding these things will help with both
the viability of your garden and your soil but also with nutrition as well
any of these will have different application rates about how much you use
per square foot and how you blend them in so just look at all the different
bags and when you buy them they’ll be really explicit instructions on how
you’re supposed to apply them so once you have your soil test and with a few
well-chosen amendments you too can have a picture-perfect garden please like
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