So you’ve put your ear to the ground and listened to what your garden is begging for. Now what?
Before we go into some organic methods for bringing your soil’s pH and nutrient levels back into harmony, allow me to stress again that although your weeds do indeed tell you a great amount about your soil, you should always have a soil analysis conducted by a professional in order to determine the exact amounts of soil amendments (fertilizer) to add.
Although there is a wide range of nutrients within soil, this blog will look at arguably the most important aspects: pH levels, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For an in-depth look at all of the various possible nutrient deficiencies and amendments, take a look at this Organic Fertilizer Guide. With that out of the way, on with the show:
pH lower than 7.0 (Acidic): Aragonite – “Sweetens” soil if it is too acidic (pH below 7.0). This is a great option for reducing your soil’s acidity as it doesn’t add excess magnesium like some alternative amendments, such as dolomitic limestone. Aragonite is a naturally occurring calcium carbonate mineral derived from seashells.
pH higher than 7.0(Alkaline): Pine Needles – Mulching your garden bed annually with an acidic compost, such as pine needles, can help to lower your soil’s pH levels. Lowering pH levels in your soil can be a difficult and long process as limestone within the soil is continually breaking down and in turn “sweetening” your soil.
Nitrogen: According to gardenguides.com, composted manure is considered to be the best source for nitrogen amendments in soil. It has the added benefit, according to the Oregon State University Extension Service Gardening and Water Quality Protection publication, of not washing out of the soil. This means the chance of the manure running into lakes and groundwater is greatly reduced. Chicken manure is considered to be the best option; better than cow or horse.
Phosphorous: Bat guano from fruit-eating bats is considered to be one of the best organic sources of phosphorus. High phosphorus bat guanos will help to encourage root growth and even make better tasting fruits.
Potassium: Dried or liquid kelp and seaweed are great sources of quick-release potassium. Greensand, the remnants of minerals left on ancient ocean floors, is also a very good organic source of potassium. Using seaweed as mulch will not only add needed minerals to your soil, but can also help keep slugs away from your plants due to the salt content.
By: Wylee Wooldridge