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Your Garden Needs Soil



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 soil.


Your soil should be alive. It should have worms. Worms not only indicate the health of soil, but they improve the soil. The soil contains more life below the surface than the life seen above the surface, by orders of magnitude. Some life we can see, like worms. Some soil life is microscopic.

If you have poor soil, no matter what type of soil you have, the solution is the addition of organic matter. Organic matter can be added using mulches and cover crops. Soil should not be bare. Nature will always try to fill bare soil, most likely with plants that have no value and are difficult to control and tend to have things like toxins and thorns (also called weeds!). MULCH

1. Protects bare soil from growing weeds

2. Feed the microbes that feed your plants & condition your soil

3. Return waste materials back into the living system

Protects bare soil from growing weeds

  • If mulch is deep enough seeds cannot germinate. Put deep mulch on your garden leaving space for the plants you are growing.

  • Leaves and grass clippings are excellent mulches for the garden.

  • Learn to do “chop and drop.” Chop and drop is a method of pulling weeds and leaving them piled in the garden. If the pile is deep enough the weeds and seeds will not grow. Add more mulch if the dropped weeds are not enough to suppress weeds.

  • Wood chips, shavings, and sawdust are currently extremely popular. However this can lead to fungal diseases in the garden. It is best to keep these materials for walkways or under trees. Many gardeners that praise the value of woodchips are the same ones that complain they get tomato blight every year.

  • Small branches that fall with leaves, called ramial wood, are fine. This is how a tree builds soil. Tree trunks and large limbs require strong fungal growth to break down and this is where the plant diseases come in.

  • Wood will hold onto moisture, which is why many people like to use it. However, the bodies of worms and soil microbes are around 80% water and work as an efficient water reserve. Soil organisms have the same benefits of water retention in the soil without the fungal diseases woodchips bring.

Feed the microbes that feed your plants & condition your soil

  • Once your soil is healthy and full of life and organic matter (leaves etc.) you will need little to no fertilizer.

  • Soil microbes makes nutrients & minerals in the soil available to plants.

  • Feed Soil Microbes organic matter (mulch) and they will feed your plants.

Return waste materials back into the living system

  • All your kitchen waste and yard scrapes should be turned back into the garden & yard. Anything organic matter, anything that was recently living, is a rich resource that will regenerate and build your soil and the health of your garden.

  • You do not need to build compost piles. Kitchen scrapes can be placed under mulch around plants, or can be placed just under the soil surface. Spread the love and let it compost in place.

  • Chickens are top tier recyclers for the garden. They can and will eat all kitchen scrapes and anything from the garden that gets bugs. The bonuses are manure, which is an excellent fertilizer, and eggs for your family and to share.

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