As gardeners, we all know that organically rich soil is one of the keys to bountiful harvests and glorious flowers. We do our best to keep our soil happy and healthy, often by mixing in manure, compost or mulch, but how often do we really stop to think about the finer points of organic soil and its importance?
Exactly What is Organic Soil?
Organic soil contains everything you need to sustain a healthy lawn and garden, and is chock full of rich, organic materials. These are anything that was once alive, which for gardeners is basically dead plant matter. However, to be useful, the material must first be decomposed by soil microorganisms. Healthy soil is rich with beneficial microscopic life that processes decaying matter into usable organic matter.
Kellogg Garden Products, for example, contain a lot of helpful microbes within their soil that support healthy growth of vegetables and flowers.
Why is Organic Soil a Valuable Resource?
- Improves soil structure so that water, air and energy can move freely through the soil. Good soil texture should be crumbly to the touch, not clumpy or sandy.
- Increases nutrient content in the soil. Many of us know about soil nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but organic matter also builds up copper, iron, zinc and manganese.
- Uses less water. When soil structure and texture is healthy, it retains water more efficiently, leading to less water usage (and lower water bill!).
- Keeps plants healthy. When the soil is fertile, plants are happier. And happy plants have fewer problems with disease and pests. The healthier your plants are, the less need you have to use chemicals to treat pest and disease issues. As the folks at Kellogg Garden Products say, “healthy soil creates healthier gardens and healthier people.”
Tips on Keeping Soil Healthy
- Fertility can decline quickly in a garden. Keep in mind, the longer soil is used without replenishment of organic matter, the longer it takes to rebuild and restore. This requires a little help on your part.
- Reduce or eliminate turning the soil as much as possible, as working the soil disturbs the soil and increases erosion. Implement no-till or low-till gardening methods, which help the soil retain critical organic matter.
- Consider planting cover crops, which, when combined with reduced tilling, helps build and maintain organic matter in the soil.