How To Make Your Own Garden Soil – A DIY Guide
While building a new garden may seem difficult, it isn’t. Apart from a shovel, tiller, wood crates, and seeds, you need good garden soil. You can amend and treat topsoil in different ways to make high-quality garden soil at home within a budget. However, you need to search for “topsoil near me” to source some topsoil. Let’s check out how you can make your garden soil:
- Add manure – After you get the topsoil you need to increase its nutrients to make it into high-quality garden soil. Nitrogen is the primary nutrient required by plants and animal manure has lots of it. You can buy some livestock manure at a local farm or get it from a store. When added to the soil, the nutrients in manure can be easily absorbed and used by both worms and microorganisms in the soil and plants.
However, you need to add manure carefully since it poses some risks. Make sure that you source manure from local farms and homesteads that have small operations and grow their animals ethically. On the other hand, in an industrial cattle rearing facility, the animals are kept huddled together in compact spaces where risks of diseases are high and the pathogens may get transferred to the manure.
Manure is also a better soil aggregator than compost. That means it improves the structure of the soil. While applying manure to the soil, make sure you don’t use too much. Otherwise, it may add excess nutrients like phosphorus to the soil and even change the pH level drastically.
- Composting – You can also add compost to make a top-quality garden. Even better if you can make the compost at your home instead of buying it from the store. Composting at home allows you to recycle the organic waste you produce every day. Things like food waste, dead leaves, sawdust, and more. When you add small amounts of compost, it pumps the soil with slow-release nutrients that improve the soil’s water retention capability.
To start composting, you can get a compost bin for your backyard and add organic waste that is high in nitrogen and high in carbon. Organic waste high in nitrogen includes grass clippings, rotten veggies, spoiled food, and more and are referred to as greens. On the other hand, high-carbon organic waste like wood shaving and dead leaves are called “browns”.
You need to add enough “greens” and “browns” inside your compost bin and keep them under heat so that the organic matter can break down and turn into nutrient-rich black goo. You need to keep rotating the bin a few times each day and also keep adding organic waste to the bin.
Depending on your local climate, you’ll get the first batch of compost ready to be used in the soil within a few weeks. If you’re an advanced gardener, you can also try vermicomposting and use earthworms to convert manure, food waste, and crop residue into compost.
- Add builder’s sand or perlite – While compost and manure do a great job at improving soil structure, it isn’t enough. You need to add something with a finer consistency to make the soil more breathable and improve soil drainage.
Adding builder’s sand or perlite to the soil mixture helps to get the job done. You need to add one part compost, one part topsoil, and one part builder’s sand or perlite to create a classic garden soil mix. This will create a garden soil mix that is well balanced in nutrition, drainage, soil structure, and aeration.
- Soilless mix – While you can make a generous batch of good old garden soil traditionally, some like to go the soilless route. In this type of mix, you completely ditch soil and instead rely on other natural materials.
The soil structure is substituted by three materials. Coconut coir or peat moss, ground limestone, and perlite. To add nutrients, this mixture also gets a bone meal and blood meal. This mix of garden soil substitutes has the perfect structure and consistency. It is loose and fluffy and provides enough air aeration for the roots and sufficient nutrients for plant seeds.
To make a generous mix of garden soil substitute you need to add the above-mentioned materials in the following ratio:
- Half a cubic yard of coconut coir or peat moss
- Half a cubic yard of perlite
- 5 pounds of blood meal
- 5 pounds of ground limestone
- 10 pounds of bone meal.
While you learned the steps to make the perfect garden soil, there are other practices you can adopt to improve your garden soil.
- Plant cover crops – Cover crops are a great way of adding nutrients to the soil. Planting cover crops improve the soil structure and also builds up its fertility. After you have harvested cover crops, you can add the plant remains to the soil to further add nutrients.
Among cover crops, legumes are a favorite choice of homeowners since it adds nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil. Plant cover crops to half of your garden bed and reserve the rest for food crops. You can keep rotating the crops every year to keep the soil healthy and fertile.
- Permanent Garden beds – Tillage destroys the delicate micro-ecosystem of garden soil and so does foot traffic. To prevent that problem, you can grow your plants in permanent garden beds separated from the rest of the landscape.
When the soil is in a permanent garden bed, the microorganisms and worms hard at work in improving the soil structure aren’t affected by tilling. Moreover, since there is no foot traffic, there is no need to worry about soil compaction.
Now that you know all the steps to make your garden soil, you can get to the job as early as possible and prepare a nice garden bed for growing organic produce. However, to get the primary ingredient, you need to search for “topsoil near me” and buy it from a reputed seller nearby.