Improving Your Garden Soil Organically

Manure, compost, cover crops, and other organic materials can help improve the nutrients in your garden's soil. (Courtesy: Valerie Lam)

Manure, compost, cover crops, and other organic materials can help enhance the nutrients in your garden’s soil.
(Courtesy: Valerie Lam)

Having a nice garden just doesn’t happen. It takes hard work to assure that the soil is always full of the proper nutrients plants thrive on.

The goal of achieving nurturing soil can be achieved using organic methods. Many who are experts in the activity of gardening point out that organic material is soil that includes “the living, the recently dead, and the very dead.”

Plant roots and microbes and other living organisms in the soil make up the “living” section of organic presence. Deceased soil organisms, green plant material, and fresh manures are referred to as the “recently dead” components. Humus is known as the “very dead” part of the organic mixture.

The “living” elements of the organic soup improve the soil by breaking down organic material. The “recently dead” portion decomposes and releases nutrients quickly. The “very dead” components breakdown, help improve the structure of the soil and protect it from disease. For fertile soil to be present, all three forms of organic matter must also be present at all times.

You add some components to assure that the soil is getting all the nutrients it is suppose to.

Manure can be added to provide much needed nitrogen. However, some nutrients from manures are so readily available that adding manure could actually leach nutrients out of the soil and into groundwater and streams. Moreover, if too much manure is used, it can offer too much of some nutrients

Compost is a good alternative to manure as a source of nitrogen. (Courtesy: Sembraen Sao)

Compost is a good alternative to manure as a source of nitrogen.
(Courtesy: Sembraen Sao)

like phosphorus. So it might be best to use compost as an alternative.

Compost is actually recycled organic waste. It reduces the bulk of organic materials, stabilizes the more volatile and soluble nutrients, and speeds up the formation of soil humus.

Application of one-quarter inch of compost per season will provide slow-release nutrients that dramatically improve the water retention of the soil and help guard against disease.

Creating compost can take time. You start the process by layering organic material. One layer should consist of fresh, high nitrogen wastes like manure, crop residues, kitchen waste and weeds. The other layer should include less decomposable materials like autumn leaves, straw and corncobs. Microbes break down the materials into a simple, stable compound.

Include deep-rooted plants in your garden to mine nutrients from the deep layers of the subsoil. Comfrey and stinging nettle, for example, have roots that grow 8-feet to 10-feet into the subsoil and both have high contents of nitrogen.

You should also include cover crops like clovers, alfalfa, beans and peas in the garden. They help build up fertility and improve soil structure. Freshly killed cover crops offer nutrients for the soil microbes and decaying roots of the cover crop open up channels that allow oxygen and water to penetrate the soil.

Cover the top of the soil with organic mulches. They help to retain moisture and protect against temperature extremes. Moreover, microbes, earthworms, and other forms of soil life eat the mulch and their remains slowly become a part of the top soil.

Save the grass clippings whenever you mow your lawn. They are ideal to use as mulch. Wood fiber in newspapers and cardboard are also good sources of organic matter. Many gardeners have been known to lay down over the garden soil a thick layer of newspaper and cardboard, then cover that with leaves, grass clippings, and other organic materials.

About Robert Janis

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Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq – Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.

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