Soil Amendments

  Description Application
Alfalfa Meal A plant source of nitrogen. Alfalfa Pellets (5-1-2) also contain trace minerals and Trina contain ol, a plant growth promoter. 2.5-5 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Azomite A natural source of minerals and trace elements. Azomite is used in gardens as a re-mineralizer for soils. 1-2 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Blood Meal A strong, slow release source of nitrogen. It is also full of trace minerals. 1-3 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Bone Meal Granulated for easy application and quick uptake by plants. It contains 20% phosphate and up to 23% calcium. 1-3.5 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Chicken Manure Composted Chicken Manure (3-2-2) provides a well balanced supply of nutrients and is excellent for mulching and moisture retention. 1/2 cu. ft. covers
100 sq. ft.
Coconut Coir  Made from compressed coconut fiber, coir is an eco-friendly peat alternative. Works anywhere you would normally use peat moss, rock wool, vermiculite, perlite or pumice. 1 part coir to
2-3 parts soil.
Compost No amount of organic fertilizer can make up for poor soil. Compost provides a microbially active source of organic matter and other important soil builders required by plants. Up to 20 lbs. per 
100 sq. ft.
Greensand Contains about 7% total potash, along with iron, magnesium, silica and as many as 30 other trace minerals. It’s main benefit is loosening heavy clay soils and improving moisture retention. 5-10 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Gypsum Used to loosen heavy clay soils. Agricultural Gypsum contains about 23% available calcium and 18% sulfur. 4-12 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Kelp Meal A great source of micronutrients and beneficial plant growth promoters. Kelp Meal also encourages tolerance to stresses such as pests, disease, frost and drought. .5-2 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Dolomite Lime  Sweetens soil (raises pH in acidic soils) and is a quality source of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg). Promotes healthy plant growth. 2.5-5 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Rock Dust Improves soil vitality and plant health. Rock Dust contains a broad range of trace minerals, many of which have been lost through the ages, by erosion, leaching and farming. 5-15 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Rock Phosphate Provides up to a 10 year reserve of phosphorous. Contains 27% total phosphate, 33% elemental calcium and many other trace minerals. Great for flowering plants. 5 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Shellfish Meal A source of calcium (23%), nitrogen, phosphorus and trace minerals. Contains chitin, which stimulates the growth of soil microbes that inhibit root-knot nematodes. 3 pounds per
100 sq. ft.
Sulfur Lowers pH in alkaline soils. Elemental Sulfur contains 90% sulfur with 10% bentonite as a binder. Great around acid loving plants such as blueberry, azalea and rhododendron. 1 pound per
100 sq. ft.
Sul-Po-Mag Also known as sulfate of potash-magnesia, Sul-Po-Mag is a quick release source of potassium and contains 22% soluble potash, 22% sulfur and 11% magnesium. .5-1 pound per
100 sq. ft.
Worm Castings The most nutrient dense organic compost available. In soil, they retain water and release nutrients in a form that is easily used by plants. It also improves soil structure. 5-10 pounds per
100 sq. ft.

Banana Peels
Banana peels are good for gardens because they contain 42 percent potassium (K), one of the three major components of fertilizer along with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and shown on fertilizer labels as NPK. In fact, banana peels have the highest organic source of potassium. Potassium strengthens plants' stems, fights off disease, and make your plants more resistant to drought. Banana peels also improve soil by adding calcium, magnesium, phosphates, sodium and Sulphur. They are particularly excellent for plants like tomatoes and peppers. There are three main ways you can add banana peels to your soil.
- You can simply bury banana peels near your plants where they will release their nutrients as they break down.
- Brew banana peel tea by putting banana peels in a jar and covering with water. Let steep for a week or two and you will have a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer. Unlike powdered or solid fertilizers, this liquid fertilizer goes directly to the roots and helps the plants immediately.
- You can dry them, grind them into power and mix the powder into the soil to boost these nutrients. To dry your banana peels, remove the stem and end piece then use your dehydrator (145° F for about 6 hours). If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use your oven; lay the banana peel outside part facing down on some aluminum foil, cook at 175 degrees and check on them every 30 minutes.

Eggshells
Eggshells are an amazing way to improve soil and help your garden plants in many ways. You can use them as a fertilizer that will add calcium to your soil. Tomatoes that have a handful of eggshell meal worked into the planting site are not likely to develop blossom end rot, and plenty of soil calcium reduces tip burn in cabbage, too.
- Make calcium water by steeping dried eggshells in water for a couple of days, and then using the strained water for your plants, including houseplants. Plants that haven't been repotted for some time often perk up quickly when given a good drench of eggshell water.
- Mix crushed shells into your soil or add them to the bottom of your hole before planting transplants. You can pulverize the dried eggshells using a mortar and pestle, or let a coffee grinder do the work for you. A blender or food processor would also work. Another method that doesn’t make the pieces as small, place eggshells in a gallon size freezer bag and zip closed. Place the bag on your kitchen counter and use a bowl on top of the bag to crush the shells using a rocking back and forth movement.
- Eggshells can also help you fight against snails and slugs. Take your crushed eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of plants; most pests won’t want to cross over the sharp shells to bother your plants.

Coffee Grounds
Used coffee grounds are readily available and usually just end up in the trash. But, mix it into your soil to add organic material, improve the soil’s drainage and soil aeration. Coffee is a nitrogen rich fertilizer too! Sprinkle the grounds around your garden, don’t just dump them in one spot. If you leave them in a lump, there’s a good chance they will mold and you don’t want that. If you don’t drink coffee, talk to coffee houses like Starbucks or Tim Hortons and they’ll probably be happy to share with you what they would otherwise throw away.

Orange Peels
Cut up peels and spread them around your garden to deter cats from using your garden as a litter box. The scent of oranges also repels aphids and ants. If you want to use orange peels as a soil improvement you can cut them into small pieces and bury them in your garden. They will add a punch of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.

Leaves
Work fresh or composted leaves directly into the soil when preparing gardens. If using fresh, shred first and dig into soils in the fall. For composted leaf mold, throw the leaves in a pile, a plastic bag, or a garbage can. Then, forget about them for a few months. Leaves won’t replace fertilizers, but they work wonders to improve soil condition and build organic matter. They help break up and soften heavy clay; at the same time, they increase the fertility and water in porous sandy soils.
Leaves make a great mulch too! Shred leaves and sprinkle around your garden plants. It helps plants retain moisture and blocks out light to discourage weeds.

Cover Crops/Green Manure
Green manures are plants you grow in your soil and then till them into the soil as organic matter. You can use green manures whenever you have a gap between planting times or in the fall as your crops finish for the season, about four weeks before the first frost date. Some options include: buckwheat, rye grass, oats, red clover, and vetch. Turn green manures under a few weeks before planting crops. This can improve soil drainage, aeration, increase beneficial soil organisms, and smother out weeds. Many options are annuals and are killed over the winter making it really easy in spring at planting time. But if it is not killed over the winter, it can be “chopped and dropped” where it is and left to decompose and feed the soil. Cover crops should be not allowed to set seed. Drop them before this occurs.

Hay or Straw
Make sure the hay or straw you’re using has not been treated with herbicides or pesticides. It can kill your garden! Mulching your garden with hay or straw is a great way to not only help with watering and weeds, but also add nutrients as it breaks down. Hay and straw can be purchased fresh, but using old bales is better. It’s also cheaper as many farmers are getting rid of bales that aren’t good enough to feed to their livestock. It also means it’s overwintered and not full of seeds that can potentially cause weeds to sprout all over the garden. A year or two of hay or straw used as your top mulch layer and you’ll have an amazing layer of rich, loamy soil on top of your garden to work with!

Manure
Make sure the animal whose manure you’re using didn’t eat hay treated with pesticides or herbicides. Those chemicals can survive and wind up killing your garden. Most manures need to be composted first so that they don’t burn your plants, unless you are adding the manure in the fall to overwinter. Rabbit manure is an exception to this, it can be mixed directly in. Goat and sheep manure can also be applied directly but is better if composted for 1-2 months first. Chicken manure must be composted first because it is so hot, but it is also one of the most nutrient dense. It should be left to decompose for 6-12 months before being applied. Cow manure does not contain much nitrogen, so it needs 6 months to compost before applying. Horse manure tends to have a lot of weed seeds in it. If allowed to age 3-4 months and if the pile gets hot enough, it can destroy many of the seeds. Don’t use manure from cats or dogs.
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