How To Improve Your Soil Without Breaking Your Back

I posted a while back on how the quality of the soilRed wriggler compost worm and vermicompost April 2013 in which food grows affects the quality of our food.  In fact, this applies to most plants.

I stressed the importance of feeding your soil to keep it healthy.

When we feed our soil we are adding nutrients to it.  Those nutrients feed the plants growing in the soil.  And if those plants are edible (for example, the fruit and vegetables we grow), their nutritional value reflects the nutrients available to them in the soil in which they grow.

When we feed our soil we can also improve the condition and health of the soil – but this depends on how we feed the soil.

Generally speaking, feeding our soil organically is the best way to improve your soil.  In this context ‘organic’ means something that once lived, such as manures, compost and mulch made from plants.

Lots of people dig manures and compost into the soil.  They get soil that is improved very quickly.

They also get a lot of exercise.

But what if you can’t do that digging?  Or you just don’t have time?  Or maybe you don’t have the right tools yet?

Don’t worry – you don’t need to dig your soils to get them healthy.

In nature, the nutrients from organic matter is incorporated into the soil over a much more relaxed timeframe…and in a much more relaxed way (at least for us!).

In a natural ecosystem, the organic matter is deposited on the surface of the soil.  And there it sits.

Gradually, it is broken down by bacteria and fungi.  The nutrients can then percolate into the soil (especially when it rains)…

Animals (not us) might help this process by eating the organic matter…and by digging.

Earthworms are particularly good at both these processes (although they do like their food in small pieces :)).  In fact, worms are so good at digging that they have been called names like ‘nature’s tillers’ and ‘ecosystem engineers’…because their digging also aerates the soil and changes its structure.

In terms of feeding the soil, earthworms provide a very valuable service.  They eat organic matter, helping it to break down.  Their casts (faeces or manure) are very high quality soil food that also helps give a fine crumb structure to soils.  And (unless you are starting on concrete) they will come to you for free!

So…you don’t have to dig your fertilisers and soil conditioners into the soil.  Use organic matter and delegate the task to other animals like worms.

In this way, you can reduce the amount of work you need to do in the garden…saving you time and energy, and helping your garden to be more self-sustaining…because it behaves more like a natural ecosystem.

Does this change your view about gardening?  Share your comments in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!