7 Ways to Add Nitrogen to Garden Soil

7 Ways to Add Nitrogen to Garden Soil

Feb 27th 2024

Nitrogen is a vital component of plant growth essential for developing leafy greens and general plant strength. For your plants to be healthy and vibrant, the soil in your garden must be rich in essential nutrients like Nitrogen. Many plants will not survive without it. Raising the nitrogen levels in your yard is beneficial for some plants.

In this article, the gardening experts at DripWorks will guide you on how to determine the amount of Nitrogen in your garden soil and how to add the Nitrogen in your garden soil naturally.

Before discussing how to add Nitrogen to garden soil, let's look at some other crucial points you need to know!

Signs of Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

Nitrogen deficiency will cause your plants to show visible symptoms. Early detection and correction of the issues will allow your plants to recover quickly. The signs of nitrogen deficiency in plants include:

  • Yellowing of Older Leaves
  • Stunted Growth
  • Delayed Maturity
  • Reduced Leaf Size
  • Purple or Reddish Coloring
  • Premature Leaf Drop
  • Delayed Aging

Evaluating the Soil for Nitrogen Deficiency

Testing your soil is the best way to find out if the soil has a nitrogen deficiency. You can buy a kit for testing soil or send your soil to be tested.

Most garden centers and hardware stores provide soil testing kits, which you can use if you'd rather test your soil at home. Even though the results from the home tests are not as exact as those conducted by professionals, you may still use them to get a good idea of whether your garden soil is deficient in Nitrogen.

How to Add Nitrogen to Your Garden Soil

Soil with enough Nitrogen is essential for great harvests; otherwise, your plants will have yellow leaves or be undersized.

How can you add Nitrogen to garden soil and create healthy soil over time? There are several methods of adding Nitrogen to your garden soil. Let's discuss the easiest and most popular ways!

1. Plant Nitrogen-Fixing Crops

Growing legumes is one of the most sustainable methods to increase nitrogen levels in soil. Nitrogen-fixing plants such as beans and peas can form symbiotic relationships with bacteria in the soil. The bacteria live on plants' roots and convert nitrogen gas into another form of Nitrogen that plants can use.

Once the legume cover crops have grown, you can easily till them into the soil to release the Nitrogen they have built up. Legume cover crops create a thick canopy that shadows the ground and inhibits the growth of weeds. This organic weed control lessens competition for water and nutrients.

2. Composting

Composting is another standard method to add Nitrogen to your garden soil. You can get premium-quality organic compost from the store or make your own compost at home with food and garden scraps. Compost slowly releases Nitrogen into garden soil as the materials decompose.

As a result of adding compost to your soil, organic matter will gradually rise in levels along with nutrients, including Nitrogen. This will enrich the soil and give you high-quality harvests. Add compost by spreading its layer on top of the soil and then till it. You can add it to the hole you create while planting vegetables or add it to a raised bed. This is a great method to create rich soil in the long run.

Related Read: Step-by-Step Guide for Making Compost

3. Add Composted Manure

Animal waste, both liquid and solid, is called manure. It frequently has some bedding material (sawdust, hay, or straw) mixed in it. Animal manure is an organic resource that is often used to improve garden soil because it contains a large amount of beneficial nutrients.

Manure, when mixed with compost and added to the garden soil, not only enhances the texture of the soil but also provides certain nutrients. Practically, the manure of every farm animal and some wild animals can be used. The most common types of manure are sheep, cows, horses, and chicken manure, although there are a few others as well.

"Black gold" for a garden is another term for chicken manure. Manure from cats, dogs, pigs, and humans should not be used in gardening because they may include infections that are dangerous to humans, and their nutrients may not be good for plant growth.

Before using the manure in the garden, you need to compost it or leave it to rot for a minimum of six months to a year. The manure can be allowed to decompose naturally or thrown in a compost pile.

4. Mix Coffee Grounds to Your Garden Soil

Mixing coffee grounds in the soil is also an excellent way to add Nitrogen to garden soil. Coffee grounds help plants grow better and produce less garbage for landfills. Reusing coffee grounds by simply tilling them into the soil can help water retention, drainage, and aeration.

Coffee grounds, like wood ash, enrich the soil with Nitrogen that facilitates plant absorption of nutrients and water. Whether you drink regular or decaf coffee, it will still work. Used coffee grounds are the best option in terms of format, while some plants can accept unbrewed grounds.

Regarding houseplants, most can benefit from having a teaspoon of used coffee grinds added to their soil. You can even use super-diluted coffee grounds for periodic watering. Follow the guidelines to fertilize specific plants actively with your coffee grounds. It’s advised to apply a thin layer surrounding the plants. Additionally, it is even possible to use an unbrewed ground coffee bag that was left over. Just be cautious; a solid pile of coffee grounds may block water.

5. Crop Rotation

Rotating crops restores soil fertility. Crop rotation involves shifting the locations of each vegetable's plantings according to the plant family to which they belong. You could plant sweet corn where you planted green beans last year or squash where you planted tomatoes.

Crop rotation has no specific schedule. However, you can plant beans or peas where you planted sweet corn in the previous season. This is because legumes increase soil fertility, and sweet corn needs a lot of Nitrogen to thrive well. When you plant the same crops in the same places year after year, pests and diseases eventually find their preferred host plants.

6. Grow Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a multi-purpose, highly nutritious plant that works well for various uses. You can add it to foods like bread, cereals, and snacks and consume it either fresh or dry. Although it can be produced as an herb or part of a mixed crop, it is most frequently recognized as grass. You can grow this nitrogen-rich crop in your garden to boost nitrogen levels naturally. It is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Alfalfa is an ideal substitute crop that spreads quickly to function as a weed blocker and sets down incredibly deep roots. These roots aerate and break up the clay soil, acting as natural tillers.

Furthermore, alfalfa is surprisingly simple to raise as a crop. Distribute the seeds evenly throughout the soil's surface, water them in, or cover them with a thin layer of dirt. They take a while to get going, but once they do, they can grow up to three feet tall. Alfalfa contains Triacontanol, which is a natural plant growth promoter. It helps in the establishment of strong roots in plants. Moreover, it fixes Nitrogen in the soil, increases crop output, and facilitates nutrient uptake.

7. Use Fish Emulsion

Fish emulsion, often known as fish fertilizer for plants, is a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer with a quick-acting formula. Along with other beneficial nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, and sodium, it is high in Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is made using fish components that would not be used.

A gentle, all-purpose feeding solution that you can use at any time is fish fertilizer for plants. It can be sprayed on leaves, applied as a foliar drench, or combined with fish meal to make a compost pile.

Since fish fertilizer has a high nitrogen concentration, it's a great choice for leafy green vegetables. Using fish emulsion as a lawn fertilizer in the early spring is also beneficial.

The Bottom Line

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that helps your crops grow. So, it is important to balance the amount of Nitrogen in your garden soil. Nitrogen deficiency can lead your plants to damage. You can boost nitrogen levels in your garden soil by using any of the above methods. All methods are natural and easy. Avoid using all these methods at the same time because it can harm your plants.

Use one method that suits you, add Nitrogen to your garden soil naturally, and create a thriving garden! Happy gardening!