7 Organic Soil Amenders For Every Garden

1 comment by Halley -Author at MIGardener

Soil amenders are a gardener's best friend. If your soil has poor quality, too much clay or sand, poor moisture retention, or otherwise, amenders are going to become a key ingredient in your garden's success. Get your soil tested now, at the beginning of the growing season, to determine what amendments your soil will need this year. 

The list below includes some of the most accessible and beneficial amendments a garden can have!

1. Azomite Rock Dust

Over the years, minerals in the garden beds are depleted from the soil due to leaching, water runoff, and plant intake. Typical fertilizer only replaces the macronutrients- N (Nitrogen), P (Phosphorous) K (Potassium). Plants become deficient in trace minerals over time. Adding Azomite returns the minerals to promote healthy soil that can sustain exceptional life. Azomite rock dust is made up of broken-down volcanic rock. 50 trace minerals become readily available for plants and animals with an application of azomite. It will not affect the pH of your soil and can be used in any space in the garden without burning plants.  Azomite replaces many other essential trace minerals. Macronutrients still play a vital role in a plant's growth. Therefore it is not to be overlooked when adding Azomite. 

Application: 1/2lb per 100 sq feet during soil amending. Azomite can add it after plants are established by lightly working it into the top inch or two of the soil. Mother nature will do the rest working the minerals through your soil down into the root structures. 

2. Compost

compost soil amender

Compost is broken down organic matter that is used to revitalize plant life. In itself, compost is one of the most accessible fertilizers and soil amenders in the world. Anything can become a compost pile or bin. If you want the highest quality compost, you will want to keep the carbon to nitrogen ratio to 2:1. The benefits of keeping this ratio eliminate one of the largest composting complaints: smell.  Too much green matter leads to a potent smell. Add brown material to rebalance the ratio will help you fix a scent problem. Once these components break down, the compost will create a fluffy humus byproduct full of nutrients. 

Application: Composts neutral ph allows it to be the base for any soil. There is never too much or too little of this amazing amender.

Compost Two Ways

This growing medium has options! Compost in a hands-on or off style by choosing a hot or cold composting method. Hot composting maintains an active pile which speeds up the breakdown process of nutrients. The hot compost method decomposes faster and makes soil available for the garden quicker than other methods. Click here to see the variety of setups there are for a hot composting method. The cold composting method is slower, letting nature break down the nutrients at its own rate. The only downside to this method is it takes much longer. The following year you will have rich, beautiful compost for your garden amendments. 

3. Manure

alpaca soil amender

Manure is another affordable garden amendment. Animals make vital nutrients, including macronutrients necessary for our plant's growth. Some manure needs to go through the composting cycle to be helpful and non-detrimental to your garden. These are hot manures. The list is shortest for animals who produce cold manure: alpaca, llama, rabbit. Process the remainder of your livestock's manure. If hot manure is added before the composting cycle, it will burn your plants. Adding animal bedding helps to speed up the composting process. Hot manure has been given a chance to break down to safe levels of macronutrients, making it readily available for plants to use. 

Application: Mix hot manure with compost during the growing season, or apply to the garden in the off-season for the best results. 40lbs of composted manure for every 100 sq ft of garden.

4. Mushroom Compost 

Mushroom growers often grow in a compost medium similar to what you and I use in our gardens. What makes their byproduct different is that they grow mushrooms in it. Once the growing cycle of mushrooms is complete, the growing medium is no longer viable for mushroom production. However, it is perfect for other vegetative growth. An inoculated pile increases the bacterial life, which in turn increases the temperature of your pile, speeding up the breakdown process. Minerals, both macro and traces-are vital, are an adequate amount of beneficial bacteria, creating a growing material full of life. It is such a rich form of nutrients and bacteria that you will want to be careful with the plants going into this medium. It could lead to a longer shock time frame for small transplants to bounce back if too rich.

Application: Mix in a 2-4 inch layer of mushroom compost to sandy soil, and a 1-2 inch layer to clay soil for the best balance. 

5. Epsom Salt 

Epsom salt is a soil activator that allows plants to uptake vital macronutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus. These nutrient uptakes will increase the production of foliage, blooms, and create bushier, stronger plants. Epsom salt is one of the only soil amenders that plays a vital role in chlorophyll production. Without ES, photosynthesis would not be able to happen at all. 

Application: Mix 1 teaspoon of salts into the soil for every foot of plant height, or mix 2 tablespoons per gallon of water.

6. Worm Castings 

Worm castings are earthworm manure. Plain and simple. We know worms are good for the garden. Apart from aerating the soil, adding nutrients is a vital part they play. The organic matter and microorganisms present in worm castings add the level of living things in your soil. Worm castings increase the germination of seeds in the garden. Once your plants have bloomed, add worm casting to give them a boost in fruit production. If you want to produce your own worm castings, vermicomposting is the way to go. Here's a video on how to start worm bins to supply your garden with unlimited access to this awesome amendment. 

Application: Apply ¼ - ½ cup per 100 sq feet.

7. Trifecta+

Trifecta+ is an all-purpose soil supercharger for any time of the growing season. It is rich in fast and slow-release nutrients in addition to beneficial bacteria, fungi, and over 50 trace minerals. The combined power of slow-release nutrients and trace minerals mixed with readily plant-available ingredients will give your plants a visible boost right away. It will continue to feed long into the season when plants need nutrients most.

Application: Here's our official Trifecta+ application guide!


– Kaitlynn from MIgardener

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1 comment

  • Tamara Turner

    Yes, enjoyed this article! I am in North Central Texas and looking forward to the Fall garden!

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