If you have heavy clay soil, want to improve drainage or add calcium and sulfur to your soil and your soil is still workable, now might be the ideal time to apply Garden Gypsum. Garden gypsum will fertilize your plants, especially your acid-loving plants, without changing the pH, but it DOES require about 3 years for the soil composition to change as a result of its application. If applying over a large area, you might want to use a garden fertilizer spreader of some kind.
Garden Gypsum is a fantastic, all-around fertilizer and soil amendment with multiple uses:
- Many farmers use gypsum to help improve the till-ability of their soil. Clay soil can easily become compacted, as does soil that does not retain water well or is overly dry, the clumps interfering with tilling and contributing to the soil not being able to retain water. Seeds do not form the healthy roots necessary for optimal growth when the soil is not loose (aerated) and the pockets of moisture in compacted soil can result in seed or root rot. The ideal soil is loose and easily tillable; application of garden gypsum over a period of about 3 years will change the entire composition of your garden soil.
- Gypsum makes other soil amendments, such as lime or fertilizers, work more efficiently. Lime is used to elevate the pH of your soil and is recommended for application in the early spring or in the fall/winter, while gypsum can be applied at any time. Improving the composition of the soil prior to adding lime or fertilizers helps to ensure your plants are able to use these amendments more effectively, rather than their draining away and going to waste.
- Better soil composition results in the earthworms coming back to stay! Earthworms not only aerate the soil, but their castings (worm poop) is an exceptional plant food and soil amendment. You can actually buy Earthworm Castings to mix with your soil or top-dress while you are using gypsum to improve your soil composition. Earthworm castings don't smell, so your indoor and/or potted plants can benefit from earthworm activity too.
- Gypsum will increase crop yields (ask any farmer), which means it will do the same in your vegetable garden! The calcium is necessary for plant cell health, while the sulfur works with amino acids within the plant that help to manufacture plant proteins. It's all good!
You can add gypsum as you are preparing your garden bed for the following season, or you can add it into established beds, mixing it into the top few inches being careful of the roots beneath. Gypsum will not affect the pH of your soil, but over time, even in established beds, will improve the soil your plants are growing in. Use it in established flower beds, unless you're growing flowers that love the soil they are already in. For example, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans grow well in clay soils. However, using garden gypsum to improve the composition of your soil will enable you to broaden your horizons, increasing the types of flowers you can grow, the quality of your vegetables and your overall soil health.