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Soil Amendment - /soil əˈmen(d)mənt/ - noun

April 24th, 2019

Definition: Any substance added to the soil to improve plant growth. Soil amendments can be used to add nutrients, enhance soil structure, improve water retention, protect plants’ roots against pests and disease, or change the soil pH level.

Amendments Used in the Forest Garden:

When working with highly degraded soils, amendments are needed to improve both the nutrient content and structure of soils.

Bone meal: Made from crushed bones, this slow-release soil amendment contains large amounts of phosphorus and calcium. Adding bone meal to the soil is a good long-term soil correction strategy for pH problems.

Biochar/charcoal powder: This purified form of organic carbon is most useful for water retention, as it can hold up to six times its weight in water. Additionally, charcoal is covered in micropores, which provide living space for beneficial bacteria in the soil.

Leaves (green and brown): Decomposing quickly due to their size, leaves are useful for quick nitrogen and carbon inputs. As we’ve discussed in the Forest Garden Technical Manual, leaves can be a very useful green fertilizer or mulch.

Manure: One of the most readily available soil amendments in rural farming communities, manure is heavily loaded with nitrogen and decomposers. Manure will slowly break down, releasing nutrients and slightly improving soil structure.