Healthy Soil One Vital Aspect of Organic Gardening
Imagine this. You’re volunteering to help the homeless, you’re working day and night and only eating chocolate bars and drinking soda. You haven’t pampered yourself. You’ve spent so much time working and taking care of others, but you haven’t tended yourself for your own good.
How would you feel? For a time, you may be able to continue. You may tire yourself out without asking for anything in return. But as the days go by, you will feel the negative effects of the situation. You will no longer have the kind of energy that you used to. Your body will deteriorate until it can no longer function.
How is this related to organic gardening? You can actually compare this to the state of the soil. For about 70 years “modern” agriculture has relied on chemical nitrates, phosphates and potassium salts (the equivalent of junk food) to feed plants. The soil has reached the point now of being tired, exhausted and burned out. Modern science now is suggesting genetics as the solution. Splicing DNA to create crops resistant to the problems they’ve caused.
Soil is a living, breathing collection of organisms from the tiniest bacteria to earthworms, insects and arthropods. When life is in balance, plant disease and pest populations stay in check. Soil must never be left uncovered and bare. It must never go hungry. What happened to you in the example also happens to the soil. You have to feed the soil. You have to take care of it just like how you tend to yourself or to the plants situated on your garden.
One of the most important mindsets to acquire is that of being a soil “farmer” NOT a plant grower. You’ve got to have organic material placed on the soil to feed the life within. Nature is the greatest recycler, all that lives, dies and all that dies returns to feed the living.
Composting is the process where decaying matter, like leaves, grasses, peelings of fruits or vegetables, even manures and fish heads are combined to act as your soil’s fertilizer. Incorporating large amounts of compost into your soil feeds the soil microbes that convert long chain organic molecules into smaller, soluble molecules plants can use.
Mulching is placing organic material on top of the soil. Mulching can help control weeds, retain moisture and itself becomes food for soil. As mulch decays it needs to be replaced. Mulch can be almost any high carbon “waste” material. Leaves, wood chips and shredded cardboard all can make suitable mulch.
Understanding that healthy soil results in healthy plants is crucial for success in organic gardening and farming.