8 Steps for Making Better Garden Soil

Use these organic and natural methods to make healthy garden soil from common dirt.


| June/July 2007


Starting to build a new garden isn’t difficult. Most people begin by going out into their yards with a shovel or garden tiller, digging up the dirt and putting in a few plants. Following the organic and natural methods, add a little mulch or compost, and you’re well on your way to make good soil for your homegrown vegetables. But in the long run, the success of your garden depends on making healthy garden soil. The more you can do to keep your soil healthy, the more productive your garden will be and the higher the quality of your crops.

In the last issue, I discussed the value of soil care methods that imitate natural soil communities. These include protecting soil structure, feeding the soil with nutrients from natural and local sources, and increasing the diversity and numbers of the microbes and other organisms that live in the soil.

In this article, I’ll focus on specific ways to achieve these goals. There are many ways to do this, but they all revolve around two basic concepts: For more fertile soil, you need to increase organic matter and mineral availability, and whenever possible, you should avoid tilling the soil and leave its structure undisturbed.

Add Organic Matter

For the best soil, sources of organic matter should be as diverse as possible.

1. Add manures for nitrogen. All livestock manures can be valuable additions to soil — their nutrients are readily available to soil organisms and plants. In fact, manures make a greater contribution to soil aggregation than composts, which have already mostly decomposed.

You should apply manure with care. Although pathogens are less likely to be found in manures from homesteads and small farms than those from large confinement livestock operations, you should allow three months between application and harvest of root crops or leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach to guard against contamination. (Tall crops such as corn and trellised tomatoes shouldn’t be prone to contamination.)

charleyrocknroll
9/4/2015 11:53:32 AM

it's sept 9th here, Just East of Dallas TX. I missed the correct time to plant a Fall garden, so I am considering a cover crop to till in as green manure for spring. this will be the first garden here and by the looks of the sparce growth of grass and weeds, the soil will need amending. I'll get a ph test kit to determine what to add.


Ron
5/24/2015 8:17:07 AM

My wife and I have an acre portion of our property where we have tried to grow ornamental and fruit trees. We seem to lose 1 to 2 trees after every winter. The property was farmed for many years before us so I believe the grounds nutrients are depleted. How can we improve the quality of our ground around our trees?


Mike
5/18/2015 10:53:28 AM

Here is info on how to test soil ph without a kit http://preparednessmama.com/testing-your-soil-ph-without-a-kit/. Just a bit of time and you will be rewarded.






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265