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  • Writer's pictureBath Garden Center

Amending Soil: What’s The Big Deal?

Gardeners geek out about soil, and for good reason! If you’ve been gardening in the same place for a couple of years, you know the importance of building rich, healthy soil. And after spending the time to enrich your soil, you’re absolutely ecstatic when you see your garden produce reacting positively.

So, let's get into it! First of all, what is soil? It’s a mashup of broken-down rocks, nutrients, minerals, dead and decaying organic stuff, water, air, and other gases. It can take 500 years of erosion, rain, and storms to create just an inch of topsoil. If your backyard has poor soil, it’s not going to fix itself.

The big deal with amending soil is the soil structure. The structure is very important to the health of your plants and affects how a plant takes up water and what nutrients are available. Soil is composed of varying amounts of sand, clay, and silt. Clay soil is nutrient-rich, but drains too slowly and doesn’t breathe. Sand is quick-draining but has trouble holding nutrients. When you get the right combination of the three, it’s called loam.

If you have clay soil, common sense will tell you. When you grab a handful and squeeze, it forms a ball and falls back to the ground with a thud. Sandy soil will slip through your fingers. Loamy soil will make you smile. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s rich, dark, and crumbles in your hand.

So loam is the goal, and the only way to get there is to give the soil what it’s missing. In the case of clay, it needs organic matter to attract soil biology, and something to help it drain and breathe. Amending the soil means amending all of the soil, not just amending a little hole to set a plant in. Put some muscle into it! Use a shovel and amend the soil 6-8 inches down. Plant roots need to be able to travel far and wide to get established.

There are a lot of composts, manures, and soil amendments available, each boasting its own benefits. That’s why we’re here! Come talk to us about your soil. We’ll help you find the right amendments so you can start building fertile, beautiful soil!


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