The Q&A Archives: Amending Soil

Question: Have you ever heard of amending gardenbed soil with Epsom Salts and Gypsum? What is Gypsum and where do you find it?

Answer: Epsom salts (Magnesium sulphate) are occasionally suggested as a source of magnesium. Gypsum is occasionally suggested to help flocculate clay soil, reclaim alkali beds or acidify soil but in New York state I would be surprised to hear it being suggested for soil improvement. If you have heavy clay soil, for instance, it would probably be preferable to add ample amounts of organic matter (such as compost, rotte dleaves, aged stable manure and bedding, etc.) as well as a small quantity of coarse builder's sand or grit. The best way to begin a soil improvement program is to run some basic soil tests and find out what your soil is (or is not) lacking and then work from there. Your county extension (866-7920) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results.

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