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How to Amend your Garden Bed’s Soil when it’s Full and Growing

It may seem tricky to improve your garden’s soil while plants are growing and soil reaches to the top of your garden bed boards. You don’t want to disturb your plants and you don’t have much room for large additions. When faced with this task, instead of turning to voluminous amendments such as compost or manure, consider high nutrient density, low volume amendments. Options such as granulated egg shells, peat moss, and a sprinkling of time released fertilizers can make a big difference, without taking up any space.

In this episode we amend the soil around our red cabbage plants, which are in various stages of growth. They need a little extra calcium, nitrogen, &  water retention to promote a healthy root structure and full leaf production – watch below to see how we do that.

Also, thank you to Peter Ziske for suggesting this episode topic! If you have a topic you would like to see in an upcoming episode, post it in the comments below.

If you’re not sure what your plants need – here’s a really quick guide to help you figure it out.

  • Nitrogen – for plant growth, leaf development and the production of vivid, green color.
  • Phosphorous – for root growth and the creation of fruit, seeds and flowers.
  • Potassium — sometimes called potash — for root development and resistance to drought and disease.
  • Calcium – plants use calcium to produce cell walls and root tips. Without adequate calcium, vegetable plants tend to become stunted and rot.
  • Magnesium – plays a main role is in the photosynthesis process, it’s a building block of the Chlorophyll, which makes leaves appear green.
  • Sulfur – used in the formation of amino acids, proteins, and oils. It is necessary for chlorophyll formation, promotes nodulation in legumes,


To be sure what your soil needs, we recommend doing a soil test. You can have it done for free by your local Cooperative Extension office (some states charge a small fee), it may take a few weeks to get results back to you. Or you can purchase your own soil test kit.




Hi everyone. This is Theresa Traficante from Garden In Minutes, and this is Episode #6 of Easy Growing.

Welcome to our next episode, Episode Six of Easy Growing. Today we’re going to discuss simple, easy soil amendments while your plants are growing. You don’t just have to do it all at the very beginning, your plants need nutrients as time goes on. So you want to add a little here, little there, and certain things – for instance if you need calcium you have your egg shells. If you need moisture retention you have peat moss. You have coffee grounds that you’ll use as well. It’s not as acidic as you think, because you’ve already brewed coffee. Then you also have standard time release fertilizers. You can get organic varieties, traditional varieties, whatever you feel comfortable with. So for today, I have three items. I have peat moss, egg shells, and I have a time released natural fertilizer and I’ll show you those.

Lift Mature Plant Leaves To Amend Soil Near the Roots

Okay so we have our plants already growing. As you can see we have different stage growth here and I want to fertilize my cabbage, my mature cabbage. So what I’ll do is I’ll take a little bit of my time release natural fertilizer, put around and then a little bit of peat moss just to keep the moisture in. Same thing… just a little bit around it. You just lift your leaves gently. If you have large foliage you lift the leaves gently, but if you have something like this… very simple you just put it around it.

Amend garden soil base of plants


For mature plants, gently lift leaves and add soil amendments near the plant base.

Soil Amending With Ground Egg Shells, Time Release Fertilizer, & Peat Moss

So here are my egg shells, all ground up. You’ll put it around the red cabbage. Next I have a little time release fertilizer… it’s a natural blend that a friend gave us. Now I’ll add a little peat moss. Peat moss will help with moisture retention and it has a little nutrient base as well. That’s it. Just sprinkle that on.

Raised Garden Soil Amendments Peat Moss


Incorporate peat moss to assist with moisture retention for thirsty plants.

Mix Soil Amendments Into The Garden Soil & Water

Now we’re going to work it in the soil very simply. You’ll need just a little (garden) tool to work it into the soil. Very simple process. Now all we need to do is water.

Okay so you can see we have our nutrients down, and all under here, worked in. We’re working it in and we’re watering. You’ll see we have a nice crosshatch on the watering, even watering for all of our plants. And that’ll help work the nutrients into the soil and get down to the root of your plant that’s going to pick up that nutrient base.

Amending Raised Garden Bed Soil Wateringv

And that’s as simple as it is, a very quick and easy solution to just fertilize while your plants are growing. So that’s it. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you on our next episode!

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