I know, I talk about this a lot, but it is the key to great plants. I can design a perfect arrangement for your site, but if you have ‘bad’ soil, your plants will be stunted, sick or even die.
Everyone has the magic tip to growing perfect tomatoes, but no matter how clever your tomato growing skills, if you don’t have good soil your tricks will not prevail.
Mulch and composting are the key to soil prep. Let’s take a look at how we can implement this and improve your soil.
Building awesome soil
Use poo – Whenever you plant a tree or prepare a new garden bed you should add manure.
Old composted manure adds a new level of nutrients, improves the water holding ability, and provides food for the creatures living in the soil.
Soil should not be as hard as concrete and manure will aid in making the soil more friable and plant friendly.
You want the soil to be full of life: worms and other micro organisms are essential to healthy plants, and poo is very attractive to these critters.
My favourite manure is cow or sheep, but any you can get your hands on is great. Never use fresh manure, it will be too hot and burn your plants.
Compost – I cannot urge you strongly enough to start composting.
Turn your kitchen and garden waste into and excellent soil amendment with very little effort.
Compost is an amazing soil conditioner and assists with moisture retention.
Like manure, compost can be added to your planting hole and garden beds – it’s like a wonderful tonic for your plants.
Mulch – Soil and its micro organisms like to be moist.
Mulch assists with this along with suppressing weeds and as it breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil.
Choosing the right mulch for the right plant seems tricky, but large mulch can do the job for bigger trees and shrubs, finer mulch is good for new beds, young plants and veggie beds.
Unless of course you are in a particularly windy area, then you must use a mulch that cannot blow away.
Worms – This is another way to use up your kitchen waste and turn it into a rich soil amendment, fantastic for all types of gardens.
Worm bins don’t take up much room, they don’t smell and the ‘tea’ and castings are very high in nutrients.
Layer your bed – Lasagne gardening or sheet mulching is a fast and simple way to make a garden bed without to much work.
Find some cardboard or newspaper to form the base of the bed, place them thickly and then wet them thoroughly.
Then you need a ‘green’ layer, anything you have in abundance in the garden will work: veg scraps, grass clippings and even manure work well in the layer.
Follow this with a dry layer, either leaf litter, old straw or hay, then add another ‘green’ layer.
Then mulch and water the bed well.
You can add some compost soil to the top if you wish to plant straight away, otherwise this can sit until you are ready to plant.
In the mean time, worms will work their way up the bed ready for planting.
Never, never, never plant without doing something to your soil.
Your plants will reap the benefits you so will you, with quick plant establishment and productive growth.