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Your Garden Needs Air



What do you need to grow food?

1. Air

2. Water

3. Sun – Light & Heat

4. Soil

5. Nutrients, Minerals

6. Plants & Seeds

In this series we discuss what is needed to grow food. This episode is about air.


When we talk about what we need to grow food this one is easy. Air is everywhere and it’s free! Plants and animals all need air. They exchange gases and enhance life together. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, which is used by animals. Animals take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide which is used by plants.

While you may have all the air you need, you do need to think about how air flows in your garden.

Too much wind:

  • Windburn caused by strong wind

  • Strong Wind blows plants down

  • Wind is drying to plants & soil

Not enough wind:

  • Too much humidity

  • Diseases and pests like fungal diseases & fungal gnats

  • Planting too deep blocks the “Nose of the Plant”

  • Soil compaction prevents oxygen in the soil

Plan your garden with airflow in mind. Protect tender plants that will burn in the wind or get blown over by planting stronger plants (trees are used in larger spaces) as a protective windbreak. To do this you need to find out which directions the winds blow in your space.

Protect plants from strong winds. Dominate wind directions may shift during the year.

Ensure spacing is adequate to insure breezes can flow around and through each plant. Stagnant air can lead to diseases like powdery mildew and other fungal disease. It can prevent soil from getting oxygen which will choke the roots of plants and the soil life that makes life possible.

Ensure each and every plant can breathe.

Wind and breezes can be used to solve moisture issues. If an area is too wet, increased airflow will help dry it out. Too much airflow dries out plants and water so decrease airflow to conserve water in dry areas.

Don’t bury the root flare. This is the structure at the base of a stem/trunk that acts as the nose of the plant. Roots and the microbes in the root zone need oxygen.

If a plant is planted too deep the plant roots cannot get oxygen, they cannot breathe. Make sure your plant roots can get oxygen.

The soil needs air too! Microbes in the soil creates the soil structure that allows life to proliferate, and they need to breathe. Without oxygen the only soil organisms that can survive are anaerobic. Most pathogens are anaerobic. Pathogens cause diseases. Diseases can bring in pests.

Make sure your soil is not compacted because that eliminates all the air pockets and soil creatures (like worms) and microbes will choke. Make designated pathways so that soil in not compacted in growing areas.

Keep soil mulched or keep a cover crop growing which will keep out weeds and add organic matter. The organic matter feeds the microbes and that keeps air in the soil and microbes healthy. Healthy soil grows healthy life-giving plants.

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