The soil is full of life. Trillions of microscopic critters that eat organic matter and turn it into nutrient-rich waste, just like Earthworms do. If you can feed these little guys, you will have amazing soil which yields healthy plants. It is the most important aspect of gardening.
Nature is constantly improving the soil. A relationship is created between the plants and microbes and they help each other out.
It takes time, but the soil contains all the food, nutrients, and moisture that plants need to be healthy, productive, and nutrient-rich.
Due to marketing and lack of education, people think they need to add things like fertilizers and amendments to the soil. But if you just leave it alone, you will be rewarded with healthier plants without all the hassle.
whats happening in the soil
Soil is alive with little awesome microscopic-sized creatures – fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and bacteria. Like us, these little guys need food, water, and shelter.
These microbes feed on any kind of organic matter and then turn it into important nutrients such as nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and almost all of the other elements on the periodic table.
the best fertilizer for soil
The best fertilizer for your soil can be found right in your yard. Collect leaves, twigs, logs, grass cuttings, branches, food scraps -anything natural, and toss it into your planters. The microbes will eat it and it’ll serve as a hiding spot and shelter for other insects in the yard. Insects are another really important aspect of gardening. Insects will protect your garden and like the microbes, they leave behind nutrient-rich waste that the plants need to be healthy.
microbes and plants
The majority of microbes hang out in the root system of plants (called the rhizosphere). Amazingly, microbes and plants have a close relationship where they communicate and help each other out.
Plants cleverly excrete a sugary-like substance from their roots that attract microbes. The microbes hang out and eat in the plant’s root zone then they return the favor, and convert it into food for the plant (called fertilizer).
This process repeats over and over, improving your soil with every spec of microscopic waste.
Over time, the microbes eat, decompose organic matter, and turn them into nutrients the plant needs. the plant’s roots, providing it with the nutrients it needs. As the plant receives these nutrients, it becomes strong and healthy, enabling it to fight off diseases and pests.
soil is good for your health
Just as microbes play an important role in plant health, they also help human health. Until very recently, humans spent a lot of time outdoors, exposed to fresh soil and soil-based organisms daily. When humans get food directly from the ground, not the supermarket, it isn’t washed with disinfectants that remove the soil-based probiotics. Today, unless you grow your own food or eat organic produce straight from the field, you’re missing out on the soil-based probiotics that humans have evolved with. And even worse, instead of being encouraged to go outside and eat dirt or find a source for fresh food, you can just buy soil-based probiotics on Amazon. Sad face.
improve your soil
Composting your daily coffee grounds, food scraps, and yard waste is the best way to make a super nutrient-rich additive for your soil. We keep a compost bucket in our fridge to collect our food scraps, then put them in bins out in the yard.
Worms are an awesome addition to your compost efforts. I have noticed if you keep large holes on the bottom of your compost bin, and keep it moist, the worms will come on their own. If you want to buy worms, Red Wiggler worms are the best composting worms. You can get them online here, or buy them in the fishing section of Walmart or a bait store.
I refer to any organic matter as biomass. This can be anything that can be added on top of the soil to decompose into nutrient-rich soil. This can be leaves, branches, weeds, twigs, grass clippings, woodchips, compost, and wood ash.
I plant a lot of fast-growing plants that provide an abundance of leaves and branches for chop and drop.
Every year I get wood chips from the local power company when they cut the trees back from the power lines.
We use our chicken coop as our compost pile. All our food scraps, green material from the garden, cut flowers, weeds…whatever we can find goes in the chicken coop. Within days the chickens will have scratched through it, leaving small scraps of nutrient-rich compost for us to dig out and put in the garden.
If you don’t have chickens, there are many ways to construct a well-built compost heap to start building up rich, organic matter.
You can also construct a compost heap out of a wooden box…and preferably, a chicken. I love my chickens for compost. They eliminate the need for turning the soil, and they break it down within days rather than months.