What are your plants growing in? Dirt is what’s underneath your nails and on your clothes, but the soil is where plants are grown. In North Alabama, there is plenty of red clay. Clay can be nutritious but doesn’t allow oxygen and water to reach your plant’s roots; therefore, soil amendment is necessary.

Soil amendments can be many different things, such as finely shredded bark, often called soil conditioner. Shredded bark is an inexpensive soil amendment, which is why it’s often used. However, compost can be a great additive. Compost can be mushroom compost, worm castings, composted manure, or even old decaying leaves and grass clippings. Most composts have some beneficial bacteria, sand, or other aggregates. Although, they don’t offer a fertilizer. For example, Permatill is an expanded slate that can help aerate the soil without changing the pH.

When mixing soil amendments, dig your hole twice as wide but only as deep as your new plant, and use one-third to one-half soil amendment to whatever you are getting out of the ground. It is important to make sure that the new hole percolates. First, dig a hole, then add water. If water stands for periods of time, like a swimming pool or a bathtub, that isn’t good. But, assuming that the water does leave the hole and percolates through your soil amendments, mixed with your natural soil, this will be great for your plants to get started.

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