Monday, March 26, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments - Continued

Garden Bed Amendments V – Specialty Products for Garden Soil

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.     
Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL to do your soil test or go to for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitution that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.

Soil Moist
Soil Moist

Is a name brand for one type of polymer with water
storing capabilities to help reduce waterings
            We recommend this to be added to containers that
            are in a lot of sun
We also recommend this to be used in plantings where
regular watering may be difficult   


Are microscopic fungi that help the root structure of plants take up water and nutrients for healthier plants that resist disease and insects
            Can be found as a granular or in a water soluble (i.e. Brand name Thrive) form
This product does not have any direct beneficial nutrition; however, it increases the plant’s ability to access nutrients in soil

Diatomaceous Earth for the Garden

Diatomaceous Earth
            Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined
            all over the world
Used as a pest management tool but will kill
beneficials too (it dries out both hard body and soft
body insects by getting into their respiratory systems, 
and for soft body pests such as slugs, it is like sharp
glass to them)
Used on top of the soil and as a line barrier
            Use in dry weather
            Often used in organic gardening practices


            It is a biosolid
Is a fertilizer that is natural 5-2-0 slower release
            It won’t burn
            It may deter deer and rabbits
            Used as a top dress for both gardens and lawn


Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)

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