Last Updated on October 29, 2022
If you’ve been planning to use gypsum for soil amendment, you may be wondering if it is the right option for your garden. The fact is that gypsum has a lot of application in the garden, and can equally be useful in amending clay soil. We encourage you to stick around till the end of this article, as we will be sharing a few details about gypsum and how you can use it in soil amendment.
What is Gypsum?
Gypsum is the naturally occurring mineral referred to as calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is used mainly as a fertilizer and also in the making of drywall, plaster, and blackboard. There are varieties of the mineral that is also used in making sculptural works of art. It appears colorless but can also be defined as yellow, pink, tan, gray, brown, blue, or red, due to the presence of impurities.
In the garden, gypsum can serve a lot of purposes. It can be used as a soil conditioner that can be used in loosening clay soil. This it does by removing the excess sodium that is present in the soil and introducing sodium into the mix. But before you go adding gypsum to your garden soil, there are steps you need to follow. We will discuss more that later in the article.
Uses of Gypsum in the Garden
We use gypsum mainly in our garden to plant vegetables in the heavy clay subsoil we have at our backyard. It made it easy for us to till the soil once we apply the mineral before planting season. It has helped to save us the stress and cost of hiring labor to prepare the land for us.
It has also helped to improve the outcome of our crops resulting in better yield and more profit. Which is what you will be interested in if you are a commercial farmer says Bob who wrote us from Nevada.
Gypsum can be the solution to your clay soil problem. It can be applied directly to the surface of your soil to loosen it and improve the condition of the soil. But you need to be aware that even with the best application practices, it can take up to three years for it to take full effect.
You can also use gypsum to recover damaged soil. Take, for example, you have a soil that has been compacted by heavy machinery, and is no longer useful in growing plants. By simply applying gypsum over it, you can improve the condition and make it workable again.
Gypsum is a readily available and cheap option for soil improvement. It is also easy to spread and use in whatever part of the garden that needs conditioning.
Nutrients Contained in Gypsum
Before you make use of gypsum for soil amendment, it is only right that you find out its nutritional value to your soil. Gypsum is mainly sold for gardening as a dry powder so it can be easily applied. The major nutrients in the gypsum powder are sulfur and calcium. Plants need both minerals to be present in the soil for healthy growth and development.
Calcium is useful to plants as it helps in the transportation of nutrients within the plant and in building thick cell walls. Deficiency in calcium will result in yellowing of leaves and reduced plant growth.
Sulfur is useful in the production of oil and protein in both plants and seeds. It also helps in the healthy development of the plant until maturity. Deficiency in sulfur also results in the coloration of leaves.
Using Gypsum for Soil Amendment
Before you use gypsum in your garden, you must carry out a soil test to determine the nutrient condition of the soil. Gypsum reduces the level of salt in the soil which makes it suitable for use in arid and coastal regions. You shouldn’t use gypsum in sandy soil as it usually doesn’t have much effect on it. A better option will be manure of compost to improve sandy soil.
You will need to perform the test so as you can determine the sulfur and calcium content. If the result shows that they are in abundance, it will be pointless to include more in the form of gypsum.
You also need to be aware that you shouldn’t add gypsum to soil with organic matter content of over 10 percent. You also shouldn’t add it to your soil to improve the fertility, pH, or structure if you follow organic farming principles.
Since soil compaction has a negative side effect on the soil, in terms of moisture retention, percolation, soil composition, root growth, and tilt. Adding gypsum to the soil will be a good way to loosen the soil. You shouldn’t make use of gypsum alone on nutrient-deficient soil and expect to improve the soil fertility. Gypsum should be applied in preparing the soil for planting season.
The effect of gypsum on the soil is short-lived. But with regular application, it can help to soften the soil and make it suitable for plowing and sowing.
Other Alternatives to Gypsum
There are other alternative methods you can use in your garden if you are not comfortable with gypsum. But it doesn’t matter which method you choose, you should be on the lookout for options that can help in improving drainage, increase moisture retention and aeration, reduce crusting of the soil surface, and promote soil aggregation.
You can make use of any of the following alternatives instead of gypsum
- Lawn clippings
- Autumn leaves
- Organic mulch
- Cover crops
Can you add too much gypsum to soil?
Yes, you can.
Gypsum is also commonly added to soil to improve the ability of the soil to hold water.
There is a point where adding too much gypsum will actually hurt your plants. If you add too much gypsum, it will pull water from the roots and lead to the root rot that everyone has been trying to avoid for years.
Here are some things you can do to prevent this problem:
If you have a high-water table, make sure you don't have any puddles around the plants. You can also use a moisture meter to check the soil. Make sure you are watering your plants during the day when they need it the most. You can test the soil moisture by using a water bucket.
What does gypsum do for soil?
Gypsum is a mineral that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. It occurs as white to yellowish-white clay minerals and as crystalline rock.
Gypsum is a very common component of soils. It is also used in many agricultural products such as fertilizer, lime and cement. It has many uses in agriculture. It is used as a soil conditioner and as a slow release fertilizer.
Can you apply gypsum and fertilizer together?
You can apply gypsum and fertilizer at the same time, but it’s best to wait a few days or a week before you apply them. Fertilizer contains nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), which are the two main nutrients for plants to use. Nitrogen helps increase the size of your plants and make them grow faster.
The problem is that if you use a liquid fertilizer, it will soak into the ground before the gypsum hardens so the gypsum doesn't really stick to anything. The best way is to mix the liquid fertilizer with a good amount of sand and then apply it in a thick layer over your grass.
It depends on what you are using for your fertilizer. If you are using a water soluble fertilizer, then you can apply them together. If you are using a fertilizer with a slow release agent (such as nitrogen) you can apply them at the same time, but you will need to apply the fertilizer at a later date to avoid running out of nitrogen before the grass has time to use it.
When should you apply gypsum to soil?
The only time you should apply gypsum to soil is when it is already dry. This includes all soil that has not been wet for a period of at least 72 hours. Gypsum can be applied in either liquid or dry form, and will work best when applied in a powder form.
Gypsum doesn’t contain any plant nutrient but composes mainly of calcium and sulfur. It isn’t a good choice of fertilizer for your soil but can be used as a simple method to loosen clay soil and soften the subsoil.
For amending nutrient deficiency in the soil, you will need to carry out a soil test to determine the mineral content of the soil before adding gypsum. This is because you don’t want to use gypsum on your soil if there is already enough sulfur and calcium.
Which method do you use in improving the fertility of your soil? Have you used gypsum in your garden before? We will like to hear from you in the comment section.
Josephine is an enthusiastic gardener who loves to spend her spare time tending to her garden. She is passionate about growing her own food, and aspires to one day have her own vegetable garden. Josephine is also an animal lover and often takes in stray cats and dogs. She enjoys spending time with her pets in the garden, and is often seen playing with them or watering her plants. Josephine is an avid reader and enjoys learning about new gardening techniques and plants. She is always looking for ways to improve her garden and make it more beautiful. She is a great friend, always willing to lend a helping hand when needed. Josephine‘s passion for gardening and love of animals make her a wonderful addition to any garden.