Some of the organic soil amendments we've used
We just added some basic organic things to our soil: organic blood meal, organic greensand, and organic bone meal.
In addition to things we've bought, we've used "regular" compost from composting yard waste in a three-bin composter, leaf humus from leaves we've gathered from our yard (below), and also vermicompost that we make in our basement from our kitchen scraps.
We're also going to experiment with biochar in 2014.
Fish and seaweed
We've used some organic fertilizer, such as this organic fish and seaweed concoction.
Some of the bags of leaves seen in our area
In the fall and spring we see literally hundreds—and probably even thousands— of bags full of leaves put out to the curb.
It's a good thing for our creeks and streams that they're not just raked to the curb to enter our sewers, but it's just such a waste of a valuable resource.
One of our many leaf barrels
Instead of raking them out to the curb, we dump our leaves into increasingly large "barrels" we make from fencing.
Initially we tried this just as a way of demonstrating that leaves can be dealt with on our property, but when we saw how easy it was to create beautiful leaf humus with no work, we made a lot more of these barrels and put them in out of the way spots in our yard.
Since we leave most of our leaves where they fall and rake leaves only from our tiny lawn, we collect leaves that neighbors leave out to the curb.
Beautiful leaf humus—nothing but leaves
We don't have to turn the pile or put any effort into it. The leaves just decompose all by themselves.
In a year or two (depending on how composted you want the leaves to be), it's ready to be harvested and added to your soil.
There's more information about how we use leaves in our yard in general at Our Habitat Garden.
Biochar we purchased
Biochar has too many purported benefits to ignore. We'll experiment and see the results in 2014.
Some of the benefits are climate-related, and some are plant-related. As with many environmental issues, different perspectives exist, especially since no conclusive proof is available on either side. How it's made can affect its environmental consequences. Is more energy used (creating carbon) making it than it sequesters? (See sidebar)