Learn some important facts about soil that will help you to improve your garden soil and grow healthier plants.
The quality of your garden soil will make or break your plants. A lot of gardeners wonder why their plants and
vegetables fail or are sick. Many people are quick at supporting their
plants with sprays and other potions, organic or not.
The aspect of a
healthy soil with a lot of active biology does often not get much
consideration because we can't see it.
You need a good microscope to see
what's going on beneath your feet. A sick plant should be rated as a
warning sign for soil conditions that are not ideal. The soil is
an ecosystem full of microorganisms, fungi, worms and insects. The
health of this system is responsible for the health and nutrient density
of our plants that we grow (and eat). And in the end, the health of the
soil is related to our health!
The soil food web is a bit like our
If it is healthy with a lot of good bacteria we have a good
immune system. If there are more bad microorganisms we get sick.
On top of that you help to sequester carbon into the soil. The following gardening methods will help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by putting it back into the soil and keeping it there. The organic matter in your garden soil increases and is turned into stable carbon reducing the greenhouse gas CO2.
A No-Dig Garden Improves Your Soil Naturally
A no-dig garden is the ideal way to improve and preserve the health of your soil. You will have less weeds, less problems with pests and diseases and better quality plants and produce. Learn more about it here.
I want to give you a few facts about soil that will help you understand this dark matter a bit better. It is not just dirt....it is a living organism and if we want to be successful organic gardeners we have to learn to treat it right and to create a environment that supports the soil food web!
Mycorrhizae is the beneficial relationship between fungi and plants. Learn here how you can support this symbiosis and why this is so important for the health of your garden.
Without earthworms, the soil
under our feet would be just dirt. It would be rock hard and compacted,
making life for plants very difficult if not impossible.
Seaweed is my favorite organic fertilizer, soil improver, and plant growth stimulant. I like to use it on nearly everything: from compost to planting to sowing! It is incredibly useful stuff in the garden!
Facts About Soil For Gardeners
1. Without the biology,
your plants will be dying!
Without the soil food web i.e. billions of little organisms like
bacteria, nematodes, ciliates, mites, earthworms, etc. the brown stuff
under your feet is just dirt or decomposed rock. The soil food web ensures that the
pathogens (the bad guys like disease-causing bacteria, fungi or
nematodes) are kept in check and that your plants receive the right
nutrients when they need it.
2. Organic matter can hold 10
times its weight in water!
This is an important fact about your garden
soil! Increasing the organic matter content will help to hold water in
the soil and reduces the need for watering your plants. You can increase
the organic matter content by adding compost and mulch. Cover crops are
also an excellent way to accomplish this.
3. The beneficial
bacteria and fungi help to give the soil structure.
This allows air into
the soil. They produce a 'glue' that forms aggregates with soil
particles and organic matter. If they die off the soil collapses and
goes anaerobic. Pathogens start to build up and your plants get sick!
Good soil structure helps to infiltrate and hold water in the root
The roots can go deeper and reach more nutrients and water. You
have to worry less about watering and feeding your garden!
How Can You As A Gardener Improve The Quality Of Your Soil?
You have to try to improve the food web that supports the plants by not
destroying and disturbing it. Unfortunately, a lot of the things we have
conventionally been taught to do, don't really help to improve your
soil. Digging, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides destroy
the microorganisms that try to work so hard for us. Sooo....
avoid digging, tilling and plowing (I love this idea!)
avoid soil compaction
keep the soil covered all the time with either plants or mulch
add microorganisms to your soil with good quality compost or compost teas and extracts
Increase the organic matter content with compost, mulch, and cover crops
If you want to deepen your knowledge and learn more facts about soil
take the time to watch this interesting talk by Dr. Elaine Ingham.