As a gardener, what are you aiming for? Of course you have your sights fixed on a beautifully thriving garden with luscious growing plants and various yields to fill up your baskets. But as a gardener, your most important goal should be to create a healthy soil.
Plants are dependent on the soil for their nourishment and a healthy soil teeming with microorganisms like fungi, bacteria and nematodes and with other critters including worms. All these microorganisms and organisms play the important role in the soil ecosystem which is to eat and excrete. They eat through the nutrients in the soil and break it down for plants to absorb these better through their roots. There are even bacteria and fungus in the soil that bring nutrients to plant roots in exchange for food that plants provide. Some fungus can also extend the roots of plants, making it easier for the plants to reach water and more nutrients at the deeper levels of the soil.
So aim to create healthy soil for your organic garden and here are some useful tips to making your garden soil healthier and rich with microbes:
Start A Compost Pile
Start a compost pile (that is, if you haven’t already done so). Compost can host a great many beneficial microbes. Try vermicomposting or worm composting. Do you know that worm poop is a great, highly nutritious food for plants? You can also buy compost if you can’t make your own. When buying, be sure you choose the kind that has a color similar to coffee (deep dark brown black). Compost that is completely dark in color probably went anaerobic and that is no good.
Feed the Soil
Feed the soil, not the plant. As mentioned above, plants are dependent on soil for food so if you have a well-nourished soil, you have well-nourished plants. There are materials you can add to the soil that bacteria and fungus love such as fish emulsion, kelp and manure. Never put fresh manure on plants as that will burn them.
Be Careful When Buying Fertilizers
Don’t buy synthetic fertilizer salts and pesticides, these kill the good organisms in the soil and promote pathogenic activity that cause diseases. You should also be careful when purchasing fertilizers labeled as ‘organic’. These fertilizers often have inorganic salts in them that are harmful to your plants and the soil ecosystem in the long run.
Deal With Diseases Organically
Ideally, healthy plants should not succumb to diseases. If they do, that is usually a sign there is a problem with the soil. Still, when dealing with plant problems, take the organic route and use herbal concoctions or homemade organic pesticides .
Introduce Beneficial Insects To Your Garden
Ladybugs, praying mantis and lacewings are some of the beneficial insects that can help you control disease –causing pests in the garden.
get to Know Your Plants Better
Talk to your plants and encourage them to tell you what could make their lives better in the garden. Or you can do a bit of research about your plants and their needs in relation to your climate. There are some plants that simply cannot thrive where you live no matter what you do. It is best to stick with the kinds of plants that love your climate. Trying to grow plants that will only suffer in your area will just attract harmful microorganisms.
A good understanding of how soils work will enable any gardener to create a healthy soil in his or her garden. There is an excellent book that explains soil really well so if you want to have a really successful garden, you should check it out. The book is called Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition, Model: , Home & Outdoor Store by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. It is very concise and uncomplicated and shows you how to nurture your garden soil’s microscopic ecosystem for the benefit of your plants. You can get it here.