• Laurie Blake

How Can I Improve my Soil for Vegetable Gardening?

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

If you're going to plant or make a garden bed in the existing ground, I would suggest getting a soil testing kit from Amazon or your local garden supply store. The testing kit will determine the soil PH level and if there are any deficiencies. Any PH level issues need to be addressed, so plants don't suffer from a soil that is too alkaline or too acidic.

I have thirty food-grade pails and my greenhouse to plant in. The soil that is in my greenhouse depleted from last year's plants. I'm going to remove half the soil in the greenhouse and put it on a tarp to work and then use it to fill the bottom of the pails.

I'm going to amend my current soil with compost, volcanic ash, bone meal, kelp meal, Epsom salt, banana peels, and eggshells. The coffee grounds and eggshells will be my pest deterrents.

When the greenhouse has half the soil removed, I'm going to give it a good clean and get

David to complete the repairs before filling the greenhouse with new organic soil. At the end of the season, I will use the soil in the pails for our lawn to give it a boost.

We're watching for the big bags of organic compost to go on sale. If I were to throw an axe at it, I would say that my garden, plants included will cost me about $400. I should be able to recover that money by selling my extra potting plants. I'll give you an update once it is all said and done.

What Nutrients do Plants Need?

The primary nutrients plants need to find in their soil are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

Plants need magnesium, calcium, and sulphur in lesser amounts. Micro-nutrients required by plants are boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, and zinc.

Plants also need carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. We can assist with that by ensuring the soil is not over watered and loose, so it is oxygenated.

What I’m going to amend my soil with and why?

For the garden soil in general, I'm going to mix the current soil with compost, bone meal, kelp meal, Epsom salt, and volcanic rock dust.

For underneath my cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, I will add a mix of soil amended with banana peels, bone meal, eggshells, Epson salt, kelp meal, and volcanic ash.

Special Amendment

Dividing what I have at planting - banana peels and eggshells

1 cup bone meal,

¼ cup Epson salt,

1 cup kelp meal, and

1 cup volcanic ash

Breaking Down the Amendments

Baking Soda

If you want sweeter tomatoes add a bit of baking soda around the base of the plant to lower the acid levels.

Banana Peels

The banana peels are high in potassium which assists with disease protection, with flowering, and nutrient absorption.

Bone Meal

Bone Meal is a source of calcium and phosphorus for blossoming and improving fruit quality.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are acidic which is great for killing weeds and to deter slugs. I’m going to put some around the perimeter of the greenhouse but not around my plants as I don’t want to impact the soil PH.


Organic matter feeds the soil microbes who release nutrients to the soil. Compost also assists with water retention. If you are lucky enough to have access to worm castings, also called vermicompost, it is considered black gold to gardeners. We will do a specific post on worm composting later as we loved it.

Egg Shells

Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulphur, which helps improve flower blooming and enhances a plant's green colour. I add one cup of Epson salt to my large watering can feed my garden once a month.

Epsom salt

Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulphur, which helps improve flower blooming and enhances a plant's green colour. I add one cup of Epson salt to my large watering can feed my garden once a month.

Kelp Meal

Kelp meal is rich in micro-nutrients and trace elements and gives tomato plants a boost. Add one cup to the special amendment mix at planting.

Volcanic Ash

The minerals in our soils are depleted, and the only way to get them back is to add them. The plant roots will take in the nutrients from the ash, helping them grow bigger, faster, and by improving their health to fend off disease. The ash will also enhance flavour and nutritional value for us.

For the next gardening post, I'm going to go through the evolution of our garden.

Please subscribe and share with your friends so we can play in the dirt together.

I'll send you a note when I publish follow up posts.

Until next time take care and live well.

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