What is the key to great gardening? Great soil! Although Fall is rapidly advancing, it’s never too late to start planning for next year. Take the time during the winter months to learn and educate yourselves on what it is that can help facilitate healthy, and fertile soil for your garden. On this week’s post you will be able to find some useful facts, tips and suggestions on how to recognize and ultimately create better quality soil.
Facts about Healthy Soil: The Big Picture
-Quality or healthy soil naturally repels pests such as insects, which lessens the need for harmful pesticides
-Maintains diversity necessary to help stabilize other life-systems: Human and animal health
– Allow for the gradual release of nutrients and water (more resilient to long periods of time without rainfall; perfect for this summer!)
-Purifies rainwater: A portion of your drinking water!
Tips from the Farmer: Indications of Healthy Soil
Farmers suggest that gardeners should try to recognize particularities in the soil for optimum growth. Farmers interviewed in Wisconsin in the ‘90s revealed some telling secrets of healthy soil. For example:
-Healthy soil won’t pack down (it should be loose)
-Water won’t stand on the surface of healthy soil, water will be absorbed rapidly
-Healthy soil will hold moisture
– Healthy soil is a dark colour
-Unhealthy soil will leave spots on the leaves of plants
-Plants in healthy soil will appear dark green, uniform, lush, and sturdy
-Earthworms are present; especially after rain
Next time you are in the garden give your soil a quick once over to determine its health!
Composting is a simple way to give back to the soil with little effort. All you need is a bin (rotating one, a wooden one, or a plastic one with a lid and air holes), and a level service on the ground in your backyard. To begin your compost bin you must add layers of green things and brown things
-Tea bags/ coffee grounds
-Twigs and sticks
-Dry leaves and dry grass
Andria Vasil, author of “Ecoholic” suggests that for optimal production of compost you should first put down a layer of course material i.e. twigs or woodchips. Then, add a layer of browns (5-10 cm), and then a layer of greens (5-10 cm). Continue adding layers and stir up the compost every once and a while. Compost should be ready to use in a few months!
No garden, No problem!
There are plenty of community garden groups in all regions that would be happy to have you involved in joint gardening ventures! Involvement in community gardens is a great way to learn and experiment with different alternatives. It’s also a great way to meet new people!
~Written by Samantha Hogg
Romig, Douglas E., et al. “How farmers assess soil health and quality.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 50.3 (1995): Accessed from the Web. 16 Aug. 2012.
Vasil, Andria.(2007). Ecoholic. Canada: Random House.
Warkentin, Benno P. “The changing concept of soil quality.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 50.3 (1995): 226+. Accessed from the Web. 16 Aug. 2012.