What soil amendments should I use?

Compost, Top Soil, Garden Mix, Oh My!

A day doesn’t go by when someone asks us to make a suggestion on what soil amendment they should use. What type of compost is best? What is the difference between Garden Soil and Potting Mix? Will top soil work? Is manure okay to use? You get the picture. You may have been one of our loyal customers who have asked.

Now that it is warming up and there are more warm days than cold days it is time to get in the gardens and preparing the soil. So I thought it was timely to talk about a couple soil basics. Plants require nutrients from the air, water and soil. Plants receive Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen from the air and water. All of the other nutrients come from the soil either naturally or via soil amendments and fertilizers. The primary nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Additional nutrients that come from the soil are calcium, magnesium and sulfur as well as micronutrients.

In order to select the right soil or soil amendment it is critical to have a baseline on what the current state of your soil. This can be done by soil testing. There are a few options, take home soil test kits, send samples to CSU for soil analysis or have a professional come to your home. Jensen’s Flower and Garden has both the take home soil test kits and the CSU kits for your convenience. Additionally we will be hosting a Soil Analysis Workshop with an expert from our soil vendor Organix on hand to discuss the different type of soil amendments. But most importantly he will be doing FREE soil testing and making recommendation on what you need for your garden. Join us on Saturday April 24th at 11 a.m.

I have included a brief description of the most common soil amendments:
Fresh Manure- Must be composted before incorporation or applied in fall, incorporated and not planted for 4 months. Can burn plants and may contain bacteria such as E. coli.

Composted Manure- Higher in nutrients than plant based compost. Salts can concentrate with composting. Jensen’s Flower and Garden offers a Cow & Compost, made from dried dairy manure and compost and a Sheep, Peat and Compost, made from aged sheep manure, Canadian sphagnum moss and compost.

Organic Compost- Garden amendment made from forest products and recycled wood products composed with poultry manure. Beneficial for use in, vegetable and flower gardens, new lawns and when planting trees and shrubs. Helps promote vigorous root growth, water infiltration and drainage. Helps to keep soil pH in balance. Makes nutrients more available to plants. Biggest advantage in organic matter.

Outdoor Planter Mix- Made from organic compost, sphagnum peat moss, fir bark and pumice is ideal for outdoor containers, planter boxes and hanging baskets. Outdoor Planter Mix increases moisture retention for reduced water requirements. Helps promote strong root structure, lush leaf development, vibrant flower color and more flowers per plant.

Gro Rich – Garden Soil Mix-100% organic compost, sphagnum peat moss, fir bark fines fortified with DPW (dried poultry waste). Gro Rich improves the health of the soil; increase yields, and produces larger more abundant flowers and vegetables. Not formulated for container gardens.

Top Soil- Use to fill in low spots in landscape and the lawn.

Clay Buster- Use in clay and heavy soil to break up clay and hold it apart making room for roots to grow bigger and deeper. Made of compost with pumice.

No matter what amendment you use it is critical to enhance your garden soil every year. This will help improve the health of your plants thereby improving the yield as well.

It won’t be long now when we can get the vegetables and flowers in their summer homes. The staff at Jensen’s Flower and Garden looks forward to helping you with all of your gardening needs from soil amendments and plants to that fun new plant stake and statuary. See you soon.

Ask the Expert.

Sue asks: Is it too early to plant my tomatoes?

We are still a few weeks away from the last frost date, which typically May 15th. Until then it is possible to plant tomatoes and peppers, but you must be willing to do a little extra work. The best way to get a head start is to use a Wall-o-Water. The Wall-o-Water heats the soil and protects the tomato plant from frost. If you are planting in containers and can move the container inside when temperatures drop below 40, you can start your tomato. Topsy Turvey, upside down tomato planters that can be started inside and move out later are another choice. You can always take a chance that the cold weather is over. As always Jensen’s Flower and Garden offers a wide variety of tomatoes in 2.5″ pots now and will have larger tomatoes in a few weeks, along with Wall-o-Waters and Topsy Turveys.

If you have a questions for our staff, please send an email to info@hilltopgardening.com or stop by