Good soil needs to be maintained by more than just tilling and watering methods. The soil must also have the proper acid level, a good pH balance and enough nutrients in the soil to support long term growth. The soil also benefits from having aeration and the ability to retain water. One of the simplest, most natural and widely available substances that can accomplish this is limestone.
Limestone is a naturally occurring mineral that can help restore infertile soils. As a soil amendment, it acts as both a soil conditioner and a natural fertilizer. Who knew that a pulverized version of the same stone that was used to carve the Sphinx could also be so useful in the garden!
Limestone is simply a powder that can be spread on by hand or machine. In a one hundred square feet area, you’ll need about two pounds. Limestone can also be mulched directly into the topsoil.
Limestone is very alkaline and can help balance out acidic soils that have been ruined by excess nitrogen fertilizer. It can also help balance pH levels in your soil and neutralize harmful acids.
When you deposit limestone into the soil, it also increases the bacterial activity in the soil. This is because microorganisms in the soil that may be dormant are fed and stimulated by the addition of limestone powder. Microorganisms break down the limestone and make it more biovailable to the plants. This action also helps break down thatches and large debris in the soil.
The application of limestone powder only takes a few minutes and is easy and safe. Simply sprinkle the powder where you need it and then water to help the limestone initiate the breakdown process. Within about two weeks, most gardeners notice a healthier garden.
The EPA once did a study that showed that people who have gardens tend to use ten times as much fertilizer as needed. This adds unnecessary amounts of nitrogen pollution to the environment which usually results in the burning and degradation of the soil so that it becomes depleted of vital nutrients.
Because limestone is very high in nitrogen, you must resist the temptation to over apply it. Over applying could cause the same kind of burning that you get with the excess use of chemical fertilizers. So keep in mind, if you’re striving for an organic garden, this is the last thing you want to do.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Try limestone as a natural fertilizer and reap the benefits.