Nourishing the soil is the foundation of organic gardening.
Healthy soil is vital because it is the ultimate source of any food production, providing the optimum nutrients for growing food. Remember, if a nutrient isn’t in the soil, it can’t be in our food.
More than this, nurturing your soil helps maintain biodiversity and actively prevents pests and disease.
We can and should harness biodiversity in our own gardens by growing a wide variety of plants that benefit the whole garden, the way nature intends without human interference.
It is the most effective way to manage and proactively prevent pests and disease.
A polyculture creates biodiversity, where there are a variety of different species planted together to bring nature back into balance. In a polyculture, all parts of the land are used in a balanced way to consume and also replace the soil’s nutrition with different plants using different parts of the soil. Even weeds play their part.
In organic gardening, we replicate nature as much as we can. There are no quick fixes and no chemicals, and this is why nurturing a healthy ecosystem is your best line of defence against problems BEFORE THEY START.
A major principle to organic gardening is to feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. To achieve this, a regular organic spraying of natural fertilisers and minerals are all that is required. Synthetic fertilisers are more expensive and offer a quick fix in the short term, but destroy the soil and pollute our waterways.
Soil regeneration is another fundamental element of growing a healthy, thriving garden without pest and disease trouble. But it will fix even more than this…
Do you suffer drought in your area? Creating a healthy, active soil sponge is the key to holding water in the soil.
What is a healthy active soil sponge?
When your soil is restored to optimum health with the right bacteria, fungi and humus present, the soil becomes a sponge that can soak up all the water it is given and stores it within its structure, so it is available to plant roots as required.
Healthy soil sponges help with droughts and floods alike, as the soil is able to absorb water rather than have it run-off, away from your garden.
Top tips to care for your soil:
#1 Feed it with the good stuff. Artificial fertilisers destroy microbial life. Organic matter, such as vermicast from your worm farm, enhances microbial life, helping your plants to grow.
#2 Death is part of life. If a plant dies, don’t cut it out. Allow it to break down and return to the soil, adding its nutrients back into the mix. It will help feed the next plant.
#3 Support and protect its structure. I always apply a good layer of mulch over my soil, as this suppresses weeds; boosts water retention and prevents the soil from eroding away from the weather.
#4 Rotate your crops to get the most out of one area. Different plants should be rotated in the one soil space, because this enables different parts of the soil to be used by the roots of the plants. For example, if you first plant lettuce and follow this with carrots, the root systems are really different and use different depths of the soil. This enables the plants to maximise use of the nutrients in the soil, and it also prevents diseases in the soil.
#5 Give it a rest. Just like every living thing, it needs a break from time to time. Do this by planting a green manure crop to help replenish the soil. Legumes are really good nitrogen fixers and usually deep-rooting, so help to open up any compaction within the soil. Also when cut down and dug in, they become a great carbon source.
Please remember to take care of your soil, first and foremost. When the nutrients aren’t in the soil you grow in, they won’t be in the food you’ve grown.
At the Grow Inspired Academy, an online one-year course, I teach the essential skills you need to be able to harness biodiversity in your own garden, combat pests and disease, and create your own healthy, nutrient-rich soil.
Learn at your own pace, as we cover the five key elements to creating this success for yourself – save time, save money and most importantly, save your sanity from trying to grow and always discovering your efforts are attacked by one pest or another.
Doors open for new members – visit https://www.growinspiredacademy.com