22 May 5 STEPS TO FIXING YOUR SOIL
Say you’ve been a longtime non-organic gardener, and want to make the move to using only organic practices in your yard and garden. Or you recently moved into a new-to-you house and are pretty sure the previous owners used chemicals on the property. You know that synthetic chemicals have been used liberally, and you are concerned about the health of the soil.
And you are right to be concerned. Soil that is treated only with synthetic (non-organic) chemicals over time loses its organic matter and living organisms. The soil structure declines, as does water retention, sending your soil into a crisis situation. Take, for example, synthetic fertilizers — these fertilizers contain mineral salts that acidify the soil and, over time, repel valuable earthworms.
You need to fix your soil! And you can, by following these 5 steps. It won’t be quick — just being honest here — but it will be worth it.
- Go through all of your garden supplies and throw out anything that is synthetic or non-organic. Think “out of sight/out of mind” — you don’t want those chemicals on standby in a moment of weakness.
- Start a compost pile to take the place of synthetic fertilizers. This is not a quick fix, as a compost pile takes time to build and then to decompose. In the meantime, use a good quality bagged organic compost, or have organic compost delivered in bulk from a local landscape supply yard.
- Avoid disturbing the soil. Leave the soil structure as intact as possible by having a “no till” garden policy. Tilling disturbs the soil’s ability to support roots and its ability to serve as a habitat for beneficial microorganisms. Instead, dig smaller holes for transplants and poke holes in the soil surface to plant seeds.
- Use a diverse selection of plants. Remember, we want to mimic Mother Nature, and She always uses a wide range of plants in every setting. The variety of plantings supports biodiversity in the soil, enriching it and ensuring its health. Grow fruits, veggies, flowers, trees, herbs, and shrubs to encourage healthy soil in your
- “It’s only a weed if you don’t want it there.” Weeds are actually a part of the biodiversity we talked about in Step 4, helping to protect the soil and feed the microorganisms. While I don’t want my garden overcome with weeds, I take a middle-of-the-road approach by allowing some smaller weeds to stay and focusing instead on removing only the large, obnoxious ones.