6 Effective Ways to Enrich Your Garden Soil
If you’re upset because your garden soil is not perfect, you’re not alone. Except a few fortunate gardeners, most others have to work with garden soil that is not very good. But the good news is that such soils can be improved with many tricks. Identifying the shortfalls and providing the same is the key. This needs some research and willingness to experiment. But if you’re a serious gardener like Michelle Obama or Prince Charles, you won’t shy away from the hard work, right? Here are a few tips and tricks for improving your garden soil.
1. Make a Worm Composting Bin
You can create soil rich with nutrients with your food and paper waster by making a worm composting bin. The beauty of worm compost is that firstly it doesn’t cost you anything separately because anyway you would trash your kitchen waste and paper waste, and secondly, it’s perfectly organic. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it doesn’t pose any danger to the ecosystem.
You just have to collect all your organic waste in a bin and add the worms called Eisenia fetida, which are commonly known as red wiggler worms. At RedWormFarms.com you’ll get everything you need to know about how to make worm compost.
Once you create your worm compost, you can add it to your soil to enhance its structure, feed plants, improve aeration and enhance the capacity to drain and retain moisture. You can also use it as an excellent foliar treatment in the form of worm compost tea. It has an exceptional power to revive plants and replenish soil that has become depleted, infertile and unable to sustain life.
When you add abundant amount of worm compost to your soil, a number of nutrients and microscopic life quickly thrive and enrich barren land. You’ll be amazed to see your plants growing healthy again and a balanced ecosystems being established.
2. Feed Your Soil an Organic Diet
In addition to the above-mentioned red wiggler worms, a lot of other organisms in the soil too can help enrich your soil. You should just know when and how to encourage their activities. Normally, their activities start in spring when they come out of their winter dormancy and recycle nutrients, capture water, improve soil tilth and fight pets and diseases. These activities below the ground help the garden above the ground thrive.
What can you do in this? You can support and encourage the life below your soil to do their beneficial work for your garden. The best season to start this is fall. It’s when organic materials, which are important for healthy soils, occur in abundance. There are fallen leaves, fruits and flowers under the trees. Plus you have kitchen waste and garden debris.
You have to chop this organic material straight into the top 2 inches of soil using a heavy bladed hoe and spread mulch over it. To make your work more refined, add mineral phosphorus, concentrated manures, potassium fertilizers and lime simultaneously. When you add these materials in the fall, they get time to break down for use when your plants need them in the following spring.
3. Build Compost on the Soil Surface
Instead of or in addition to creating worm composting bins, you can even build compost straight onto the soil surface. This technique is called sheet mulching.
If you are newly developing your garden, it’s a good idea to add a suffocating bottom layer of cardboard to kill existing vegetation, and then alternate 2- to 4-inch green and brown compost layers. This will encourage worms to burrow through the soil while transporting food. This process will effectively enhance soil structure, while leaving powerful worm manure castings.
Sheet mulching should be started for existing gardens a few months before planting and for new gardens the year before you plan to plant. It will build your new garden soil actually from the ground up. It will smother weeds, maximize nutrients and keep soil life undisturbed and thriving.
4. Provide Your Soil What’s Missing
Over many seasons of soil building, an organic, living soil recycles and regains most nutrients, eliminating or reducing the need to add fertilizers. However, if you’re newly building a garden, you’ll have to check what’s lacking in your soil and add those nutrients. Lime and organic fertilizers ensure proper nutrition for the forthcoming season. If you miss the fall time to add them, add them many weeks before planting in the spring.
Understand your soil’s fertilizer requirements by using soil test results and other resources. For general purposes, you can buy a complete organic fertilizer mixture from your local garden center and use as directed. For vegetable gardens, add fertilizers to the upper 2 inches. Don’t dig at all for perennial gardens. Add lime and fertilizers as and when required around the plants, sprinkle water lightly and cover with mulch.
5. Don’t Let Weeds Pull Nutrients
Spring is the season when all plants thrive and these include weeds too. Before starting your planting process, control weeds, as they compete with your plants and pull organic food from your living soil.
Fall mulching is a way to control spring weeds. Pull out weeds emerging in the spring early and quickly, while they are still small and easy to pull out. If they are not noxious, meaning not spreading aggressively by roots or stem, it’s recommended to lay them right back on the soil surface and cover them with a 2- to 4-inch of organic mulch. When you cover your garden beds right from the beginning, you get an upper hand over garden weeds, and at the same time, you feed your soil with organic material.
6. Remember Adding Nitrogen
Nitrogen is perhaps the most important nutrient for plants. While a living soil keeps recycling and regaining most other nutrients, nitrogen is normally in short supply, even if soil building has taken place for years. Nitrogen is not only important for plants, but also for soil organisms. Therefore long-term soil health and garden growth depends on nitrogen.
Make sure your soil contains sufficient amount of nitrogen before planting every year. Source of concentrated nitrogen include feather meal, seed and blood. Fall or spring legume cover crops trap nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil. While worm composting is great for enhancing overall soil health, extra nitrogen sources will be required while using compost as a soil amendment.
All in all, you don’t have to be distressed with your imperfect soil. You can enrich it easily and enjoy growing a great garden.