“Can’t I Just Dig a Hole and Put a Plant in it?”

Soil is not just a structure to keep your plants upright. It is the foundation for the entire ecosystem of your garden.

According to Joe Smillie’s The Soul of Soil, “The total weight of the living organisms in the top six inches of an acre of soil can range from five thousand to as much as twenty thousand pounds.” Organic gardening is based upon maintaining an ideal environment for these organisms. The bacteria, fungi, earthworms, etc. that make up this underground community all play integral roles in the natural cycles that allow your plants to flourish. Simply put, these organisms break down organic matter into nutrients that are then available to plants (this is called Carbon Cycling).

The best thing you can do for healthy soil, and therefore healthy plants, is compost, compost, compost! By amending with compost, you not only add organic matter and improve the structure of your soil, but also contribute additional microorganisms that can further enhance plant growth. To properly prepare your soil, dig down at least twelve inches and amend heavily with compost. This will ensure a light, fluffy soil with plenty of pore space so that air, water and roots can easily penetrate. Without pore spaces, all the fertilizer in the world won’t make your garden grow. To avoid compaction, only walk on designated pathways. Another useful tip: you can add a three to four inch layer of compost as mulch to help retain moisture and further improve the soil.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more treatments such as fish meal, aerated compost tea, worm castings, etc. that can add nutrients, organic matter and vitality to your garden. But we’ll save that for another time. For now, these basics will help you foster healthy soil with a thriving community of organisms and the vigorous plant growth you desire.


Tell us what you're thinking...

Please share your thoughts and ideas with the Who's Green community.