May 5, 2011

Choosing Soil Amendments

I've been gardening for many years, but believe it or not, I have never added any soil amendments to my gardens, other than the occasion spray fertilizer.  Honestly, I haven't even done that in several years.  Needless to say, my gardens need some special attention this year to boost the productivity of the soil.

I headed out to my friends at Niepagen Greenhouses to learn more about soil amendments and which will be right for my gardens.

I headed inside to find the two ladies who could tell me everything I need to know about soil amendments, Anne and Debbie!

Mushroom compost is great for flower gardens.  It comes from rich compost made of horse manure, stall hay and sometimes corn cobs to grow mushrooms.  It has been sterilized before mushrooms are planted, and therefore is usually pest and weed free.  After studying up on different composts, I believe I will not use this on the vegetable garden simply because horse manure is used, and this is not regulated like cow manure for human consumption. I'm sure many don't worry about that, but this is just my opinion.  Debbie says that most who use it testify that it makes their flowers much more vibrant in color.

Composted manure will be my choice for the vegetable garden.  This has some of the same ingredients of hay and digested grains and grasses, but from cows, not horses.  Composted manure is a slow release fertilizer, so as the soil warms throughout the summer growing seasons, nutrients are continuing to be released into the soil to benefit the root system.  It also helps to retain moisture in the soil.  A  layer on top the soil should be a nice weed barrier as well.

Peat moss is mainly used in clay soils to loosen the soil for better root growth.  Visit to learn more about the benefits of peat.

So for my two new garden areas, I'll be adding Composted Manure to the vegetable garden, and Mushroom compost to my new expanded front garden.  As for my two large areas in the back yard, I've decided this year to add a 10-10-10 granular fertilizer, because frankly, by the time I get all this other compost worked in and plants in I don't think I'll have the strength left to do it all over again in the back yard!

Do you have experience with soil amendments?  I'd love if you would share your success stories with us!

This weekend is Mother's Day.  Be sure to head out to Niepagen's for some great gifts for your Mom!

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