Gardening Tips Soil & Fertilizers

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden
Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

IN NATURE, DO NOT SEE THE GARDENERS While the man strives to work the soil of his garden which has continually tendency the forests reach dizzying heights, the meadows are densely covered with plants and flowers without any gardener being visible.

However, if you manage to pull a clump of grass in a meadow, force is finding that it is strongly rooted in a loose and friable soil, a few most of the time coiled comfortably around the roots, an indisputable sign today of good quality soil. What the gardener is looking for is a soft soil in which it is easy to plant, well ventilated and do not remain waterlogged in the slightest rain. To describe it, it’s called “lumpy” and to get a pretty good idea of it, just look at a molehill. However, it is the natural state of most soils covered with trees and wild plants.

How can a soil remain loose and airy without the intervention of man?


If the land of natural spaces remains so perfect is thanks to the combined action roots and an entire underground people who live in good intelligence, exploring the soil each in their own way at the foraging One plant of rye can produce 600 km of roots! The roots trace It is not well known that root volume plants are clearly superior to that of their aerial part. Those of trees are the most powerful, able to go down more than 100 meters deep.

In developing, the roots exert forces that compact the soil, the “Do not do it” in their own way, as well on the surface than deep because the plants have very different root systems according to the species. Some have horizontal roots, others vertical, more or less deep and the trees have both. They thus form galleries favoring infiltration of rainwater that drains deep into the tablecloth water. The soil is permeable, well drained.

A whole underground people digs

Yet more numerous than living beings on soil, the inhabitants of the soil stayed for a long time unknown for the reason that most are microscopic. However, all have an essential role to play. In good condition, a soil contains up to a billion living organisms.

– Moles, field mice, and other rodents brew and aerate the soil very effectively by digging the galleries necessary for their fashion of life. A mole can, for example, dig 100 m of galleries in one night …

– Earthworms have several categories. The most active in the brewing of the soil are the earthworms. They dig galleries vertical, not with their paws as the mole but ingesting the land encountered. They come and go constantly between depths and surface, to eat leaves and empty their gut. In addition to this action ventilation, essential for all life in the soil, they are at the origin of the formation of humus.



Gardening is disrupting but we can stick to the bare minimum. It’s already a lot and it’s especially easy. Any area of the garden already well occupied by plants perennials can remain so if you consider no need to grow vegetables, plant a windbreak hedge, fruit trees …

Refuse products chemical

Unlike natural products, chemicals manufactured by the industry are not biodegradable. Microorganisms soil know how to decompose the wood, leaves, bones but not products chemical! As a result, these products accumulate in soils where they are spread and then in the water.

This concerns primarily pesticides

which are toxic to soil life:

insecticides, herbicides or fungicides are made to destroy and this more generally we would like to believe it. An insecticide does not kill only insects pests, CPB or aphids but also the other very species

useful in the area:

bees, ladybugs,… The use of an insecticide is also toxic to birds that consume then quantities of poisoned insects. Fungicides are used against mildew, powdery mildew, the black spots of the rose bush that are microscopic fungi like so many others, so precious for the life of the soil. Any pesticide application in nature resulting in consequences that it is impossible to master, the respectful gardener of the environment abstains. Alternative methods of tillage The soil is working very well itself when we let him do it, it is important not to upset him beyond measure. A man has already destroyed 30% arable land on the planet.

Overgrown with Very Perennial Weeds

However, if your land has been too long plowed, burrowed, compacted by machines earthmoving during construction of the house, eroded by the rain, or if it is overgrown with very perennial weeds, it is necessary to gradually restore a situation more natural, using methods as-as much as possible, in order to loosen it up and air it so that you can sow and plant. Tillage is done after a period wet when the earth does not stick anymore and before it hardens. In particular, it is advisable to avoid working on soil by turning it over, which has the effect of alive all the little organisms that live on the surface and need oxygen.

The phenomenon is all the more disturbing that the tool sinks deeply like the soca plow, or that it sprays the soil into fines particles like the strawberries of a tiller. The effect produced is easily measured on earthworms and their companions … By burying the living and fertile layer of soil, it is a dead soil.

• A revolution in progress: abandoning the spade

Very used in organic gardening, the Broadfork is a kind of fork with 3 to 5 teeth of 25 cm in length and two handles that make it all its originality. It serves to loosen the earth without turning it over. It is a maintenance tool to use in a garden already cultivated to replace the spade with which we return unnecessarily the land for generations.

How to use the Broadfork

1. Enter around in each hand and plant the tool in the ground facing you, pressing on it with your foot to drive the teeth.

2. Back up enough to get both arms extended. Shoot both sleeves towards you while staying well law; no need to bend down.

3. Lift the root ball and let it fall back to the earth without turning it over. Shake the right and left tool to complete crumbling.

4. Continue the work by moving back so as not to trample the soil already work. Do this job between two crops as long as the soil tends to compact, to stick strongly after a rain and then harden. Over time, it will be almost more necessary, as we will see thereafter.

Although he is grueling, the digging is so anchored in the practices that well gardeners, all endowed with reason, judge still unthinkable the idea of abandoning it: the spade sticks as much to the image of the gardener that clay to his boots! And yet, in returning to the ground, the dig is killing him, and with him his abilities to form humus. It’s time to put spade and plow to retirement is what soil knowledge teaches us.

• Small-scale clearing without hurry

On a small surface (less than 20 m2), rather than tearing the plants up by working the land, start with the cut at ground level and cover them with an opaque material:
– A carpet to recycle, a piece of lino, A straw tarpaulin quite thick that you can reuse. Cover the ground, then dig up the edges with stones, bricks or planks. To improve look, cover everything with dead leaves, grass clippings or coniferous branches.

– Two layers of corrugated cardboard, an example of brown packaging cartons to recover in a large area. They must overlap slightly so to remove any gaps that may leave pass the light. Set all together and cover to conceal. Six to 10 months later depending on the vigor of the plants that were present, they will be destroyed, roots understood, and served as a meal to the earthworms that will have prepared you soft ground, enriched with hummus and ideal to sow, much better than if you had it do it yourself. So, your patience will have been rewarded.

• Large-scale clearing

On a ground compacted by machines of earthworks or on an agricultural parcel that was long plowed with a tractor and plows, the last tractor pass equipped of a subsoiler can be useful before to develop an entire garden in which one will plant trees. This tool has a or several long claws penetrating deeply into the soil to fragment it and air it without turning it upside down.

• Build mounds

This practice, often attached to permaculture, is not always essential. If your floor is loose, light to trend sandy, that you can sink deeply your tools, which he does not hold water in winter, and that you are in the capacity to lean, it is useless to arrange mounds as this represents a job consequent and a big disruption for a floor.

The hill culture is especially interesting in the following situations.

– thin, mediocre or very compact soil:

happens for example that the thickness of earth cultivable does not exceed 15 to 20 cm resting directly on the rock or on a bed pebbles.

– Moist soil:

very earth-impervious clay, it remains soggy for a long time after a rain. Moisture can also come from a body of water close to the surface whose level rises in case of heavy rainfall. When opening a hole in winter, it stays filled with water. Little plants enjoy having long roots in the water because they are missing then quickly oxygen and can literally to die by drowning.

– The soil is too low:

if you have physical difficulties to bend or kneel, to raise the level of cultivated areas can greatly improve the comfort of the posture of a job. Many people can present wheelchair garden between buttes specially adapted for them. The principle of the hillock is simple; he is to increase the thickness of earth areas to cultivate. The increase of loose and aerated earth allows the roots to explore a more large volume of soil looking for food and water, and grow in the result.

The land of the hillock is better drained and heats up faster, which is interesting in spring at the time of sowing. As far as possible, the land added to the cultivated hillock is taken from the surface of aisles to circulate around. This is an opportunity to add some sand or compost to improve drainage and enrich the soil in a poor and impervious environment, earthworms taking care quietly of the homogenization of layers in one season.

The main objective is to have a mound with loose and airy soil, the least of all is to avoid walking above…
– Limited width: if you want to be able to cultivate to the center of the mound without to put your foot on it, it must not be too large. For an accessible hillock of both sides, the most common width is 80 cm to 1.20 m.
– The height: the higher the hill, the more effective it is, but the half-way effort

Mini-butte in square

Inspired by the reflections of a gardener American, Mel Bartholomew, the technique become famous of kitchen garden in squares is a very attitude permaculture.

Adapted to the surface reduced current gardens, it aims to optimize the smallest area of land on the principle of a vegetable garden rather small, but very productive. consisting to fill a good frame with planks of 1.20 m side, the kitchen garden in squares can represent a miniature version of the hill. minimum is to use the land of aisles limited to the surface layer, the most fertile, dark color. In humid zones, it is not advisable to dig deep alleyways that can turn into channels when heavy rain.
– Vertical edges: the earth is maintained on the sides of the hillock by planks, logs, bricks or low wall dry stones.
– Sloping edges: the earth naturally holds in place, fixed by the plants. The slopes of the mound being cultivable, the surface used is increased compared to a flat surface. Depending on the orientation, one side may be sunnier than the other, phenomenon usable to spread the plants in according to their preferences. Attention, a narrow and high butte will have too much slope steep.

Keep the ground covered

Soil disturbances the mounds are not justified only to the extent that they will not be regularly renewed. We arrange the hillock, then we maintain it by allowing on the ground to find a balance and by helping him to maintain it. For that, the idea is to keep the cultivated spaces still planted with living roots whose secretions need the microorganisms of the soil.

The ergonomic mounds of Richard Wallner

Author and market gardener at the experimental farm At the small hummingbird in Charente, Richard Wallner has developed, after several years of practice, mounds adapted to his particular case in particular to vary the postures of a job.
– A width of 1.70 m increases the proportion of cultivable area per compared to 50 cm aisles.
– The vertical edges of 45 cm height are firmly held by boards on which the gardener can take support or even sit down to work more comfortably.
– The top of the hillock consists of two faces on a slight slope which increases still the culture surface. On each side, mid-slope, a long log half buried serves as footrest: inputting a foot on it, we can advance the body to reach the top of the mound without packing it.


1. Using cords and stakes planted beyond the limits of the construction site, aisle surfaces to circulate between your buttes: a width of 50 cm is a minimum between two mounds. That of hummocks varies according to the chosen configuration.

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden
Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

2. Using a heavy hoe or hoe, pick first the surface layer over 2 to 5 cm. Lidéal would reserve it for not buying it because it is rich in microorganisms, then try to drive a pitchfork into the ground beaker; if it’s easy, go to the next step. If not, take the time to unpack the soil from the future mound with a Broadfork: the life of the soil will resume all the more easily.

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden
Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

3. In the aisles, also start by unpacking the earth to shovel it more easy to transfer it to the location of the mounds. work layer by layer and take only the darkest earth up to meet a clay very compact, wet, or a lot of pebbles.

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden
Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

4. Depending on your choice, fix or not edges side. Spread on the surface of the mound the thin layer of the earth set aside. sprinkle in the fine rain and several times, in order to moisten the entire thickness of the mound and then cover it completely with mixed mulch green and dry waste.

Prepare the Soil of your Home Garden

Spread in the alleys garbage and the roots.

They will be regularly mulched with waste plants between plants so to mimic the natural litter of undergrowth which feeds the small fauna of the soil. In indeed, if it lacks food, especially in winter, its population regresses considerably and, for want of “Staff”, the ground is no longer dug neither ventilated; the mounds are packed again, all the more strongly as it rains, and everything has to be done again!

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