Why are most American soils so poor, when all of us would prefer rich fertility soil? Because the current accepted methods of farming and gardening use chemical fertilizers to feed the plant directly instead of feeding organic nutrients to the microbes in the soil thereby creating fertility soil rich in nutrients, and letting the plants feed on the soil.
The chemical approach to gardening can result in numerous problems.
We have slowly killed our soils, resulting in soil compaction, poor water retention, poor airflow into the soil, and harmful nematodes. How can we reverse the damage and build fertility soil? By following the lead of organic growers all over the world.
1. INCREASE ORGANIC MATTER AND HUMUS
2. INOCULATE WITH BENEFICIAL MICROBES
3. BALANCE MINERALS IN THE SOIL
In this article, I will briefly discuss these 3 steps to restore poor soil to wonderful, rich fertility soil. By clicking on the links, you can go to my articles that give the specifics.
I till in organic matter in the fall, since for a number of months nitrogen in the soil will be tied up in breaking it down.
However, green manures can be tilled in just a few weeks before planting, since they break down quickly.
When I want to add a new section to my garden, I first till the ground to loosen it up. This also gives me the opportunity to till in some organic matter. I till 6 inches deep, then till in pine needles, shredded leaves and lawn clippings. When using wood chips, I only till them in to the top 2 inches of soil. Next, I spray a special mixture over the mulch to help break it's nutrients down more quickly.
Once this first tilling is done and organic matter and other nutrients are incorporated in, I don't walk on this soil or till it again. I use it to make raised beds. Why don't I till the soil each year? Tilling releases carbon into the air, and frustrates efforts to build up organic matter in the soil. For no till gardening, when I am ready to put down more mulch I just add it to the top of the soil, allowing bacteria to break it down. Earth worms and water will then carry the nutrients down into the soil.
Mulching has numerous advantages. Mulch helps to reduce the amount of watering needed, provides needed organic matter, and helps to suppress weeds. Common mulch items are pine straw, wheat straw, lawn clippings, newspaper mulch, and chopped up leaves. It's easy to make my own mulch if you have the materials available. It is especially helpful to organic matter in the soil when applied in the fall.
Wood chips made from branches 3 inches in diameter or less are called ramial chipped wood (RCW). They are low in lignans and make an ideal mulch. A covering of 4 inches of this chipped ramial wood is perfect. Unlike other mulches, RCW can help to build stable humus.
(Actually, an even faster way to build humus and organic matter in the soil is to activate the carbon sequestration switch)
A layer of wood chips serves to choke out weeds, soften the soil, help in retaining soil moisture, and as it decomposes it is a good source of nutrients. RCW can also be stacked on the ground 12” to 30” deep and turned into compost soil. Composted wood chips make an excellent organic potting soil.
If you want to apply RCW wood chips in the spring, here's how:
Ramial Chipped Wood can also be used as a mulch in landscaping, building up the soil and providing valuable nutrients for trees, bushes, shrubs, and other plants.
Aged or composted manure isn't just a great source of nutrients for your garden, but it adds valuable organic matter.
Compost is wonderful for your garden. It adds organic matter, is chocked full of nutrients and is a good source of beneficial bacteria. When direct seeding carrots or radishes and other plants that are planted close together, I like to lay down a bed of compost to help choke out weeds, then plant my seeds right into the compost. For a good supply of compost, I have both a compost pile and a compost bin.
Also called “green manure”, a cover crop is another great way to add organic matter to the soil. Vetch, clovers and peas are winter cover crops which not only add organic matter, but fix nitrogen from the air into the soil. These are either tilled in at least 2 weeks before planting, or mowed and left laying on top of the ground as a mulch.
There is nothing more important to the gardener than the life of the soil. When properly cared for, this life (the soil food web) holds the key to having fertility soil, resulting in healthy, nutritious plants.
There are numerous ways to nurture the soil food web. One of my favorites is to first spread my organic matter, then come over the top with a mix of a gallon or two of water, 2 ounces ocean trace minerals, two ounces raw milk (unpasteurized), and two ounces unsulfured molasses.
However, an even way to establish the soil food web fast and build wonderful organic matter is to use Mycorrplus.
It will help to begin the decomposition process of the mulch, supplies a good array of microbes, and feeds the microbes at the same time. Numerous people also report that when MycorrPlus activates the fungi in the soil, their fire ant problems disappear.
Other ways to populate the soil with microbes is to use compost tea, and to inoculate with mycorrhizal fungi at planting.
Although it is true that mulch applications will go a long way to balance the minerals in the soil, it is important to get a soil lab test for calcium and a few key minerals and trace minerals. Get these balanced out with each other, and watch your garden thrive!
When the pH of soil is too low or too high, it will tie up the soil. The best way to raise or lower the pH of the soil is to achieve correct levels of minerals in the Cation Exchange.
Another option to lab tests for balancing the nutrients and the pH of the soil while correcting sodium problems at the same time is Soil Balance.
Imagine for a minute how much fun gardening will be when your soil is rich fertility soil.
Now, enjoy the best garden you have ever grown. Happy Gardening!
(Return from Fertility Soil to Healthy Vegetable Gardening)
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