The Q&A Archives: Enrich my Soil

Question: My perennial bed (10x5) is over 3yrs old & want to enrich the soil. I have used earthworm castings in the past, but not sold locally. What can I use instead to make my plants spread & perk-up. Friend rec. lime, gypsum or bonemeal, but don't know how to use. HELP!

Answer: You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start this spring by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your perennials and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular perennial garden. The lime, gypsum or bonemeal recommended by a friend are all good soil supplements but each has a specific use. I vote for incorporating organic matter instead. It will enrich the soil completely and your plants will thrive. Best wishes with your garden.

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