The Secret in the Garden

You may be wondering what could be such a big secret in a garden?  Soil.  For beginning gardeners it tends to be something that is overlooked.  (I say this from personal experience my first year gardening).  

I want to take the complexity out of understanding your soil and help you improve it quickly and simply this spring!

Understanding your soil:  Your soil is the source of  nutrients giving life to your plants.  Healthy soil is alive and full of microorganisms and bacteria.  It has enough air space between the soil for water, air and plant roots to enter and it holds moisture and nutrients so that plants absorb them.  

The best soil will have 3% to 10% of organic matter.  Organic matter holds water and nutrients then releases it to your plants.  If you are working with your existing soil you will have either clay soil, sandy soil or loamy soil.  

1. Loamy soil is the ideal type to have (and rare).  It holds moisture and nutrients so that plant roots are able to absorb them.   

2. Clayey soil makes it hard for air, water and plant roots to be absorbed.  It dries slowly and drains poorly.  

3. Sandy soil allows air and plant roots to grow but also allows water to pass through rapidly.  It doesn't hold nutrients or moisture for long.

Two different ways to create your own compost: A compost tumbler and a simple chicken wire bin.
Whichever type of soil you have here is the secret: add organic matter (compost) to your soil and it will make a significant difference! 

Organic Matter: Compost is the most basic of all things you can add to your soil and the most beneficial.  It enriches your soil and allows nutrients to be provided to your plants for a long period of time.  It also provides the ability for the soil to hold moisture which is an outstanding attribute.  Another great benefit: When you use compost on your garden you won't need to use any other natural fertilizers!  

 You can use manure on your beneficial flower beds as long as you don't plan on eating any of your plants in them!
Application: Once a year in the spring apply a 1/3" or 1/2" layer of compost to your soil and mix it in with a shovel or rototiller.  

NOTE: Compost (organic matter from once living things) is different than manure (animal waste).  Don't use manure on your garden it can release ammonia which badly injures plants.  It can also harbor human pathogens.  Also E.coli can live in manure that is not composted for 21 months!

Read this post for Our Favorite Soil Mix (from SFGM)

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