Congratulations, you are about to join the ranks of passionate, amazing people who love to play in the dirt and grow things! You’ll soon find the excitement for those first seedlings sprouting from the ground, or your first harvest from the garden, or your first bouquet of flowers that you grew yourself!
Now let’s make sure you have an amazing garden for years to come by protecting and nourishing your soil so the soil can take care of your plants!
5 ways that you can protect and nourish your garden soil are:
- Cover the Soil
- Soil left bare without any cover is like going out naked in the hot sun all day without any cover. You wouldn’t do that to yourself (unless you enjoy the feeling of heat stroke or burnt skin?) don’t do it to your soil. Any bare patches of soil between plants can be covered with mulch, plant residues, or by planting more plants or ground cover/cover crops. This helps to keep the soil cooler, retain moisture and when you use mulch there’s less weeds.
- Keep Roots in the Ground
- There are more micro-organisms in a tsp of soil than there are humans on the planet! These micro-organisms are what makes soil the way that it is and without them soil becomes dirt, or only a growing medium that requires excessive inputs to grow plants. Leaving roots in the soil ensures that these microorganisms have food to keep them active and thriving!
- Support Plant and Soil Diversity
- A diverse planting ensures a more robust and resilient eco-system. When we plant a diversity of plants above ground, we give those micro-organisms in the soil a diversity of things to eat below ground as well. That means we get a diversity of micro-organisms that are helping to support the soil and the plants.
- Minimize soil disturbance
- The soil is home to those many microscopic organisms, such as Bacteria, fungi, arthropods, microarthropods, nematodes etc… When tillage or soil disturbance is reduced, the soil profile and soil eco-system stays intact and does not need to re-establish every time it is tilled. While tillage is sometimes required in an unhealthy soil, tillage is reduced as the healthy soil micro-organisms start to create their healthy and beneficial eco-system underneath the ground.
- Add Compost or other soil amendments.
- Compost or other soil amendments can boost the productivity of the soil, and help to re-establish those healthy soil eco-systems quickly so that you can see the benefit in your garden sooner!
When Soil is healthy, the plants are healthy, and when the plants we eat are healthy, humans are healthier, and healthy humans make for healthy communities and a healthier planet!