In order to have the best plants in the garden, whether they be trees, shrubs, flowers, fruit, or vegetables, the soil must be healthy. Though there are those rare plants that thrive in poor soil most plants do not, no matter how much sun or water they receive or how perfect the hardiness zone is for them. Here are three tips for maintaining healthy soil in your garden to keep your plants growing year after year.
Add Compost and Organic Matter
Good, healthy soil is its own ecosystem. It is full of minerals, beneficial microorganisms and beneficial microorganisms such as earthworms. One way to keep this ecosystem flourishing is to add compost. Compost is material such as vegetative matter, eggshells, coffee grounds, and even cardboard that break down into their elements and nourish the soil. Gardeners can easily make their own compost pile and toss in just about anything to save fats, oil, chemicals, and waste from carnivorous animals. You can purchase a special compost bin to hold all your food waste in until you’re ready to compost. If you don’t have your own compost bin, you can go to your local gardening shop and find compost soil to add in.
Protect the Soil With Cover Crops or Mulch
The top layers of the soil need to be protected when the garden is fallow and during the growing season. Make sure your soil is protected especially during the winter months. If it’s not covered, the topsoil can degrade or be washed or blown away. Because of that, the soil needs to be covered with mulch, which are larger pieces of matter such as wood chips, straw or pine needles. People have even used old coffee beans for mulch. Mulch can even be inorganic material such as black plastic or old newspaper as long as the ink is not colored.
Work organic mulch around and under growing plants to keep the roots cool, conserve water, and keep down weeds.
Though they can be used as silage, cover crops are plants that are added mostly to prevent the soil from eroding, keep down the weeds, discourage diseases and pests and improve the overall health of the soil. Examples of cover crops include red and white clover, oats, buckwheat, winter wheat, and mustard.
Test the Soil
Testing the soil is an important part of garden maintenance. This simply involves sending samples of the soil to a soil testing lab. These labs are often found in local colleges. When the test results come back, they’ll tell the gardener the soil’s pH, what kinds of nutrients it has and what type of fertilizer it needs depending on the plants the gardener wants to grow. Your soil has a delicate microbiome and needs to be balanced in order to thrive.
Adding compost, protecting the soil, and testing it to make sure it has the right pH and the right nutrients are but three of many tips that help create healthy soil. Of course, healthy soil leads to a healthy and beautiful garden. Now you can use these tips and have a garden that will be fruitful every year.