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Soil amendments

Soil amendments improve the physical structure and properties of soils. You mix amendments, with a shovel or a rototiller, into the soil thoroughly to provide a better environment for plant roots to receive soil nutrients and oxygen, and for better drainage.

A lot of different types of soil amendments are available. The best amendments are the ones you make yourself. The next best choice is to buy organic amendments versus inorganic amendments when you have a choice. You can find a lot of good commercial organic soil amendments on the market today. Try those that are recommended by your favorite nursery or home improvement store, and make sure you know what’s in them.

Inorganic soil amendments are usually man-made amendments, such as chemical nitrogen fertilizers. Organic soil amendments come from living sources — or they once were living sources. Examples include compost, manures (chicken, rabbit, sheep, horse, steer, cow, pig), gypsum, seaweed extract, alfalfa meal, organic cottonseed meal, bone meal, blood meal, worm castings, and fishmeal.

Organic soil amendments are the better choice, if you intend to free-range your chickens.

Soil amendment pros and cons: Organic amendments renew the soil and continue to make soil balanced and better. Composting is the best source of organic matter, something you can make yourself, and it’s free. Some organic soil amendments can be quite smelly and can tempt family pets to roll and dig for enjoyment. Sometimes commercial-made amendments have questionable ingredients and quality.

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