STEP ONE: TEST IT. You can test your soil for alkaline with vinegar or baking soda for acidity. describes how to use a jar to measure the amount of silt, sand, and clay in your dirt.

ADD MULCH. Seasonal mulching helps retain moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from competing with your plants for nutrients. Make a simple mulch by gathering grass clippings after mowing the lawn, drying them, and then use sparingly to mulch in your garden. Too much mulch prevents oxygen from reaching the roots.

ADD NEEDED NUTRIENTS. Natural manure, compost, and fertilizers are some of the best ways to add these nutrients to your soil.

SOURCE MANURE. You can buy bags at garden centers and home improvement stores. You can also ask local farmers or anyone raising cows, chickens, horses, goats, sheep, or rabbits.

START COMPOSTING. Making compost is free and great for the environment because you add less waste to landfills. If you don’t have a backyard, We Compost It and Garbage to Garden are Portland based companies that will pick up composting materials curbside. Learn more at or See below for ways to use single ingredient kitchen leftovers.

ADD COFFEE GRINDS. Coffee grinds are an excellent way to start composting. They contain the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus your soil needs.

SPRINKLE EGGSHELLS ON YOUR SOIL. Prepare the shells in different ways to use as mulch, compost, fertilizer, or pest deterrent. Eggshells add needed calcium and other nutrients to your soil and can lower the acidity level.

WATER WITH CLUB SODA. A study found that plants watered with club soda grew faster and had healthier shades of green. Soda contains minerals that plants need, such as phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, and sodium.

WATER WITH EPSOM-SALT SOLUTION. Epsom salt is great for tomatoes, sweet peppers and house plants. It can increase uptake of needed minerals, prevent root shock, and control pests. Mix one tablespoon of Epsom salt with a gallon of water.

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