Garden soil..Conditioning and organic additives for growing better plants.
Naturally enriching soil can easily be done with compost. Ideally, compost that you have made with your own lawn clippings, leaves and other green yard waste. However, if this is not an option you may want to consider commercial compost mixtures, we’ll talk about those a bit later.
You can easily develop your own soil additives with peat moss, fine aged wood chips and sand. Peat will hold moisture and make the soil airy and easily worked. If you have soil that is heavy with a large portion of clay this organic matter will also help open the soil up. Along with organic matter, sand will also help heavy soil drain better.
If you are one of the millions of people that have a home and yard you probably grow either flowers or vegetables in some portion of your property. Generally, yard dirt is not really a good growing medium all by itself. For those areas you plan on growing those great flowers or your garden, you will probably need to build up the soil with organic matter, lighten up heavy soils and generally enrich it. Organic matter in soil holds water, provides natural chemicals from decomposition which is natures own fertilizer. This matter also creates a lighter soil that breathes and doesn’t compact around plant roots. This is the environment plants flourish in.
Sandy soil will usually need just organic matter, here again peat is a wonderful additive. It is clean, easily worked into the soil is inexpensive and readily available. As your organic matter decomposes you will need to continue refresh chips and peat very couple of years.
When using organic matter as a soil additive you will need to add some type of fertilizer to the soil because the decomposition process binds the nitrogen up until the process is complete. I find a good fish fertilizer is wonderful. It is natural and easily used by the plants with little possibility of burning if used per directions.
It is also wise to check the soils PH if you are uncertain whether you are dealing with acidic, basic or neutral soils. If your soil is to acidic then an addition of garden lime will help sweeten and raise the PH. There are kits available in garden supply stores or nurseries that are inexpensive and easy to use.
As mentioned before there are commercial compost products that you might consider using in your garden but there may be a down side to some of these products. Many contain ‘bio-solids’, a nice little word that takes the place of ‘sewage sludge’. Even though the EPA has approved and promoted its use in such products and allows it’s use as a fertilizer, there are many scientists that do not feel this is a wise or safe usage of this product produced by sewage treatment plants.
Sewage sludge contains everything that enters the sewer system including heavy metals, chemicals, hormones and other biologicals that are not my idea of good soil additives. There also have been occasional incidents of sewage sludge fertilizer causing illnesses due to the chemicals and bacteria associated with it.
My problem with this material is it’s long term usage as a soil additive. You will be adding phosphates, bacteria (not always beneficial ones), heavy metals and a witch’s brew of other substances that have been proven to be unhealthy into your soil. With every application you are adding more of these questionable chemicals and over time you will concentrate them in your ground. Soils you and your family will have close contact with or even worse use to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
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I’ll give you a couple of links to both sides of this story, but if the experts can’t agree, I for one will err on what I consider the safe side. Making good soil is not difficult but always remember what you add today may be in the ground a very long time.
Several of many articles from various watch dog and environmental groups.
It is difficult to find third party comments on this subject..Most pro sludge articles are from companies that benefit in some way from this practice.
I am enclosing this article as it is not anti sludge