Soil Improvement Techniques
The health of soil, plant, animal and man (and women!) is one and indivisible - Lady Eve Balfour
For our gardens, and our health to thrive, soils need to teem with life, have good structure, and high levels of available nutrients and minerals. It can be helpful to think specifically about the soils mineral content, organic matter and biology, though they are all interrelated.Minerals
Minerals such as calcium and magnesium play a really important role in the structure of the soil. Minerals can chemically react with the existing soil, and restructure it to allow air, water and plant roots to infiltrate, and soil biology to thrive. For most food crops, the majority of soils in Wollongong are deficient in available minerals and/or out of balance. By rebalancing the minerals in the soil, your food crops will really thrive.
Organic matter is anything that was once living, and it powers the billions of microbes working in the soil. Microbes break down organic matter into an amazing end product called humus. Humus is compost made properly. It doesn’t leach nutrients like compost does, and works miracles in the garden.
Soils should be teeming with life. It’s the soil workers that convert organic matter into humus, make nutrients and minerals available to the plants, and protect the plants roots and foliage from pest and diseases. These guys are our number one priority! Richer and strong your soil biology, the healthier your plants.
There’s a number of simple ways you can increase the soils organic matter, soil biology, and improve the mineral content and balance. At Happy Earth so far we’ve:
- Spent time becoming familiar with our soils (observing, feeling, smelling) and conducted soil tests to determine organic and mineral content.
- Based on the soil test results, re-mineralised our soils with gypsum and lime, to improve the soil structure, and the balance of available minerals
- Replaced the lawn with green manure plants to improve soils structure, fertility, organic content, and minimise soil erosion
- Planted out ‘pioneer’ soil improving shrubs and trees
- Sowed and planted cover crops that will improve the soil structure and fertility, and be a living mulch - No need to buy or bring in mulch = less work and more fun!
- Spread biodynamic preparations (Earth Magic!) to kick-start soil life so that it becomes an amazingly healthy, vibrant living system
- Applies worm castings on the veggies beds and around the fruit trees