“Feed your soil, not the plants,” is an expression often used by expert gardeners, as well as companies such as Harvest that have invested deeply into the management of organic materials. Our organization has built its foundation around the notion that the earth is better served by adding valuable organic matter back into garden soils and landscapes throughout North America, rather than having organics decompose in landfills surrounded by plastic and metal.
Every garden using organic matter in their gardens, whether it is a soil amendment product such as a Garden Soil or a natural mulch, is contributing to the betterment of your garden soil. The utter simplicity of how organic matter benefits garden soils is summed up in just a few very important horticultural concepts.
- Porosity Soils need to breath. There are literally billions of living microscopic friendly fungi and bacteria in your soil along with millions of beneficial insects. They thrive and consume organic matter when there is plenty of oxygen in the soil. Porosity opens up the soil and allows air to flow to the best friends a garden can have: the microbial environment.
- Moisture A balanced moisture content maintains healthy soils and the biology in the soil perform to their expectations. When the soil is terribly wet, the soil absorbs. When the soil is too dry, the soil particles hold moisture. Moisture consistency is best for the biology to thrive.
- Disease Suppression Our friends at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences articulate this point very well in their article on Organic Manuring and Soil Amendments:
In some instances, adding large amounts of organic materials to soil results in reduced populations of plant-parasitic nematodes and higher crop yields. The reduction in nematodes is thought to be caused, at least in part, by an increase in natural enemies of nematodes. In addition, the presence of decomposing organic materials in the soil apparently provides host plants with some tolerance to nematode attack.
In the end, the management of your soil is the most critical aspect of great gardens: it’s the foundation for success and enjoyment of your garden. When your soil is healthy the sheer enjoyment of being in a garden begins.
If you’re now inspired to improve your garden soil, here are our four simple tips to adding beneficial organic matter and texture to your soil:
- APPLY a 2-4” layer of soil amendment
- MIX to a 6-12” depth (this will also add porosity)
- SMOOTH with a rake
- PLANT seeds, seedlings, vegetables, herbs, flowers, or ornamentals.
Of course water thoroughly after planting, and ENJOY YOUR GARDEN!
Written by Gardening Expert Dave Devine