BUILDING BETTER SOIL – EASY & INEXPENSIVE
A bit of advice for beginning gardeners and even some seasoned gardeners. Your plants are only as good as the soil you plant them in. So BEFORE you dig that hole to plant your new flower or veggie have some GREAT compost handy. Dig the hole AT LEAST TWICE THE SIZE of the potted plant or transplant (if you are dividing). Add your compost & mix it in with the native soil. If you have WORM CASTINGS and leaf mold that would also be a great addition at this time, making sure you mix it well with the soil you dug out to make the hole. Now you are ready to give your dollar plant a MILLION DOLLAR hole. Firm it in and water.
Now is a super time to amend all your gardens, to continuously help the soil become more fertile. Having a compost pile or two or three is great BUT if you do not have the room for it you can just amend your planting areas as they lay. Mulching all garden beds is a MUST DO! I wish I would have used shredded bark on my perennial beds when I started 19 years ago. So now, after the fact, I practice a method called CHOP & DROP. When I deadhead or cut back my perennials, I take the clippings and tuck them under the plants themselves. This creates a layer of mulch which will break down & feed the soil. If it is too large of an amount, I add it to my compost pile. When I do weeding, I pull & drop. Making sure there are no seeds on the weeds. If there are seeds on the weeds, I put them in the garbage or burn pile.
My number one mulch for my veggie gardens is organic grass clippings. Dave doesn’t use chemicals on our grass. I apply a thin layer, ½” or so. You don’t want a thick layer or it will mat and water will not penetrate it easily. I do this every other week. It really does keep the soil cooler, moist and the worms love it. Another source of mulch is used coffee grounds. Thinly spread and the worms love this too. Chopped up leaves are a super mulch, but not too available in Spring & Summer. NOTICE! All these mulches are FREE! Straw is another great mulch BUT it can be costly. Hay can be used too, BUT it does seed and grow in your garden.
Now if you are really serious about building a better soil, check out my article on LASAGNA GARDENING. I do this method every Fall in all my veggie beds. This Fall I promised myself that I would take the time to collect bagged leaves from the curbside and let them sit over a season or two. This is called LEAF MOLD. It is a very good mulch or additive to your soil.
I hope I have inspired you to take the time to BUILD BETTER SOIL.