Soil and Soil CareSoil and Soil Care
Managing Soil Organically
How you manage the soil in your garden depends on factors such as the general type of soil, how it has been utilized in the past and what you intend to grow.
The Organic approach to soil maintenance is a combination of good horticultural practice and the use of bulky organic materials such as compost and organic fertilizers.
Making Garden Compost
A compost heap is basically a recycling facility for organic material including kitchen and garden waste. Compost is a vital element in organic gardening providing food for plants and living organisms in the soil.
Principles of organic soil Care
- Feeding: using bulky soil improvers feed the soil with living creatures and help with structure and overall fertility
- Access: Avoid compacting the soil by walking on it excessively. This restricts air movement and makes it difficult for roots to penetrate.
- Don’t over dig: Over digging can destroy vital soil structure.
- Covering: Keeping plants or mulch-covered helps to protect soil structure.
- Avoid overfeeding: serious problems can be caused by overfeeding the soil with nutrients. Let the plant’s performance guide you.
Compost has a rich dark texture when mature and resembles dark soil.
Composting is defined as a breakdown of organic material. Composting, as well as the heat generated, is produced by bacteria and fungi feeding on the plant or animal material in the heap.
What to compost?
a large variety of material can be composted such as general household scraps, straw, dead cut flowers, weeds, grass clippings. Materials to avoid adding to your compost heap include meat and fish scraps, glass and metal tins, disposable nappies, coal ash, plastics and synthetic fibres.
Making your compost
traditional composting involves utilizing a large open bin where the material is placed in layers. Repeated layers of kitchen scraps and straw/stalky material give the best results. The heap needs to be covered to avoid moisture loss and keep in the heat for optimal results. These types of heaps also require frequent turning over.
Making leaf mold
Leaves falling onto the ground in autumn naturally decompose to form a rich dark material called leafmould. Making leafmould for your organic garden is simple to do and the leafmould produced is an excellent soil conditioner.
Any leaves fallen from deciduous trees and shrubs can be collected and used for leafmould. Avoid using evergreen leaves unless they have been shredded and composted.
Making leafmould is as simple as collecting the right leaves and placing them into a container to rot. It is important to keep moisture in the system so collecting leaves while they are wet after rain is the best method.
Creating leafmould is a slow process, it may take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years to create a useable batch of leafmould.