We’ve been thinking a lot about dirt lately. Or, rather ‘soil’ as we gardeners like to say. We’ve been thinking about weeds and learning about how you can tell a lot about your soil by what weeds grow in it. We’re just starting to learn about this so we’ll keep you posted. But it’s gotten me to think about how as gardeners we are truly stewards of the soil. Any organic gardener knows that your plants are only as healthy as your soil, so its important to take excellent care of it. The best way to ensure your soils health is to add plenty of organic matter. Sure, we know that the three big soil nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but macro and micro nutrients are also critical because those are are what break down the organic matter to release the nutrients to your plants. Here’s a list of things you can easily do to improve your soils health.
<li><strong>1.</strong> For new garden beds, mix one inch of compost or 3 inches of <a href="http://www.asonomagarden.com/2008/05/05/free-fertilizer-vs-16000-fertilizer/">grass clippings</a> into the top 6 inches of soil.</li> <li><strong>2.</strong> Mulch around plants with 2 inches of <a href="http://www.asonomagarden.com/2008/05/05/free-fertilizer-vs-16000-fertilizer/">grass clippings</a>, coffee ground or compost which will slowly add nutrients to the soil and encourage earthworms and other soil organisms</li> <li><strong>3.</strong> Apply a spray of <a href="http://www.taunton.com/finegardening/how-to/articles/brewing-compost-tea.aspx">compost tea</a>. Compost tea is low in nutrients but high in micronutrients</li> <li><strong>4.</strong> Plant a living mulch this summer such as oats or white dutch clover around your vegetables. Their roots will loosen compacted soil and concentrate nutrients for your vegetables to feed on.</li> <li><strong>5.</strong> Dry out eggshells and crumble them into the soil for a boost of calcium and micronutrients. <em>(via <a href="http://kaleforsale.blogspot.com">katrina</a>)</em></li> <li><strong>6.</strong> Start a <a href="http://www.asonomagarden.com/2008/03/21/compost/">compost pile</a>, <a href="http://compostings.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/cheap-garbage-can-composter/">bin</a> or <a href="http://www.wormpoop.com/">vermiculture box</a>.</li> <li><strong>7.</strong> Double dig your soil about 2 feet deep, blending in compost as you go. The benefits will last indefinately. This will improve drainage, aeration, improve root growth, encourage earthworms and allow nutrients to be evenly spread through the root zone.</li>
All these ideas are pretty easy things that you can do this weekend. I hope you try a few!