Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Soil, The Beginning of a Garden ....Rich and Nutritious

How to Get Healthy Soil 

Warm temperatures indicate the growing season is here. and the flowers are close behind.  Before heading  to the garden center for that special plant, make sure the soil is alive and well. This lovely cottage garden did not just happen.  Rich soil is hard to find in most of our yards, and these next few steps are well worth the effort.

Compost is the single most valuable amendment you can put in your soil.  Compost is decaying organic matter, such as yard debris, food scraps, and manures.  By adding compost to your garden, you are feeding the millions of micro organisms that live there.  This whole eco-system below ground is so valuable to life on this planet. 

These amebea, fungi, protozoa, and bacterium feed on the organic matter and create enzymes that direct nutrients up into the roots of plants.  Good nutrition is key to healthy plants, and healthy plants are less likely to suffer from insects and disease.  Healthy plants have healthy root systems too.

Light, loose soil, is the key to these results.  And compost is the ingredient to make soil, any soil, capable of sustaining  a healthy garden. If you have clay, compost can allow more air and water to hold in the soil.  This is called Water Holding Capacity (WHC).  The pores of clay are more balanced with air and water to allow the roots to grow and expand.  Sandy soil can benefit from compost too.  Sandy soil does not hold water well, and roots tend to dry out quickly.  Compost can increase the WHC of sandy soil and keep the roots moist longer.

This is probably the most simple way to create compost . By adding green (nitrogen)  and brown (carbon) plant material, you can get a workable product in several months.   The more you turn (stir) the more 'heat' will break down this waste into great food for your soil. 
However, I've been known to buy bags for compost and humas (another step in the composting equation) and apply that to my beds.  Most big box stores like Wal-Mart or Lowes carry these and the price is reasonable.
By applying compost to your garden now, you are allowing those micro organisms to 'chow down' and make the nutrients available to your plants when you install them in a few weeks.  Then the nutrients will be in place to feed your plants all season long. 


Do you have a compost pile?  What inspired you?  Let us know.  Thanks for visiting.


Sheila J Metcalf said...


There has been a big discussion about adding weeds to your compost pile. I've always heard that is a big no-no, what are your thoughts?

I add dryer lint, coffee grounds and filters, egg shells, kitchen scraps and some leaves and maybe a few tops of of my plants or weeds but nothing with seed or roots.

I'm interested in how you feel about composting weeds.

Claudia said...

I do throw in weeds - one with no seeds yet. The heat should degade the weed and flowers with no problems. I recently read a site re: egg shells tho - the suggestion was to microwave them for 3 min. to eliminate possible samonella and e-coli. Makes sense if you are using the compost on food crops especially. Better safer than sorry.