BAD SOIL IS NO PROBLEM IN A NATURAL GARDEN
Hello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the garden where poor soils are
only a memory. This time we will be discussing the best way to grow a great
garden. Grow a great soil first! We will look at some of the problems
associated with soils at new home sites. So let's take a look at that dirt.
Soil is the crucible of all life in your garden. It should be treated with
at least the same amount care that we give to the plants that grow in the
garden. It is the soil that makes a garden or breaks it. This is true of
any size garden or of a potted plant collection. Unless you are gardening
hydroponically, you are subject to soil quality to determine garden
The soil is something that we seem to forget about in these days
of instant fertilizers that melt in water and work before you finish paying
for them. Soil conditions are actually worsened by these instant plant
foods in many ways. The beneficial microorganisms that break down organic
matter and crowd out disease, earthworms, and essential mineral
availability are actually antagonized or reduced by using these materials.
These products may seem inexpensive at the garden center and their
advertising is very persuasive. But these materials have to be reapplied
often and plants react to them like you would react to a triple espresso
with double sugar. It gives them a good buzz, they grow real fast, and then
they hit a wall. This instant gratification comes at a price.
that you feed with these wonder products are more susceptible to insect
pests, stress, and damage from disease. The moral of this story is that
chemicals will initiate the use of more chemicals. It is a kind of not so
merry-go-round of toxic substances. Now back to talkin' dirt.
New homeowners are often subjected to soil conditions that are less than
ideal due to the fact that the soils are mechanically compacted and haven't
seen the light of day since dinosaurs walked the earth. When housing tracts
are developed, soil quality for plant growth is always sacrificed for
stability. This is done for very good reasons, like making sure that your
new house doesn't slide into the neighbor's pool. But once the house is
bought and you are ready to install your new yard there are some serious
challenges ahead. New gardens are subject to a number of "expert opinions".
The most logical place to start is the soil.
In a well conditioned soil you
can plant smaller plants that will grow at an even pace that will pass up
those gardens where lots of money was spent on plants and the soil was
minimally improved in short order with fewer diseases and reduced stress.
Digging out large quantities of native soil in favor of one or two feet of
topsoil is also not the answer. Making a bathtub out of permeable soils
over a compacted soil can cause more damage than it is worth, and this type
of technique will be expensive.
The "expert" advice that I suggest to those
of you preparing new gardens is lots of fully composted organic matter
incorporated into the top six to eight inches of soil along with a natural
nitrogen source and minerals. This should be followed with a three to four
inch layer of organic mulch. This mulch layer should be maintained as it
By using this easy practice you will soon find that your soil drains
better, holds moisture better, and you have fewer problems associated with
runoff. This method of continuous soil improvement will prove out to be the
most effective and economically sound way to feed your soil so your soil
can feed your plants. Your soil will literally come to life before your
eyes. Earthworms and billions of beneficial microbes will begin to work
non-stop to speed up this process as long as chemical fertilizers and
pesticides are avoided. You will find that your plants have fewer problems
associated with mineral and nutrient deficiencies and that you use less
water to adequately irrigate the garden. In time, the economic gain will
show in reduced water bills and fewer cash expenditures on pest and disease
Compost and mulch are very easy to find at municipal waste facilities,
dairy farms, or your favorite garden center. Mineral soil conditioners are
always available at most nurseries and garden centers and natural sources
of nitrogen and other essential nutrients are also available at most garden
centers and home centers. For a detailed description of how to treat your
new garden soil Email or fax me your soil conditions, soil color and a
brief description of your general location and I will be happy to provide
you with some suggestions and places where reliable materials may be
obtained for the lowest cost I have encountered.
Next time we will be discussing flowers in the garden. See you in the Garden!
Look for Don's book Natural Gardening A-Z from Hay House at bookstores everywhere and at all online booksellers and check out Don's columns in Hearst's Healthy Living Magazine coming soon.
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