RFD America

Building soil for a better garden

by RFD America 07/12/2022

Improving or “building” soil is essential for every successful home garden. By adding the right nutrients, you can help your plants grow healthy and plentiful. Luckily, the process is fairly simple, and can save you money you’d otherwise spend on ready-made soil.

Here are some beginner tips for turning regular dirt into healthy garden soil:

Start with a soil test

Before you add anything to your soil, use a soil test kit to determine what it needs. This test can tell you about your soil pH level and the amount of essential plant nutrients it contains. Certain plants require a specific pH range to thrive, so be sure to research the individual soil needs for each plant.

The most important minerals for a happy garden are potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur and calcium. Soil deficient in a specific mineral can be improved with specific ingredients or “amendments.” If all the minerals are low, an all-purpose fertilizer is the best place to begin.

Create a compost pile

You can easily create your own all-purpose fertilizer by composting organic kitchen scraps and garden waste. Composting slowly breaks down the materials into their basic components, most of which are needed for plants to survive. Some examples of compostable materials you might have at home include dry leaves, vegetable scraps, lawn clippings and coffee grounds.

Not only will compost add valuable nutrients, it will also improve soil structure, maintain a neutral soil pH, and help the soil retain moisture for healthy plant roots. Compost will also feed the earthworms and other soil organisms, which promote aeration and further improve fertility.

Composting takes patience, but using your leftover organic matter to create healthy soil will benefit you and your garden over time.