Soil… most people just think of it as dirt, something to grow a few plants in, and maybe something to play in when you are young. However, (healthy) soil is a living, breathing organism, vital for the health and well-being of our precious plants out in the garden. And just as we feed and nurture our plants, so must we feed and nurture our soils. But what determines a healthy soil, how do we achieve it, and how will it benefit us as gardeners?
Composting – Composting is a natural biological process, which converts wastes to rich organic humus. This process is carried out by organisms, both microscopic and larger, including bacteria, fungi, worms and insects.
The Living Components of your Soil – We tend to forget that our soil has a significant amount of animal, fungal and single celled life in it… but it is this very life that is essential in making available much of the nutrients that plants use.
Beneficial Nematodes for Natural Pest Control – Since beneficial nematodes are natural part of the soil ecosystem, they’re a safe biological pest control to use around humans and pets, and they won’t harm non-target species such as bees and other beneficial insects.
Worm Farms – Worms are fabulous little creatures. By eating their way through refuse and detritus, they manage to make the most nutritious and enriching fertiliser suitable for all your garden and potted plants, which won’t harm your plants because it is so gentle and natural.
Zeolite and Hydrocell – Two Great Soil Improvers – There are a whole bunch of really smart people out there doing amazing research and product development to help improve soils. Two products are standouts, both have been around for a while, but are a bit of a sleeper.
Checking your soil for contamination – Soil in household gardens can sometimes contain elevated, unsafe levels of lead, arsenic and cadmium. This is something everyone should be concerned about, but it becomes even more important when you are planning to grow your own herbs, fruit and vegies.
Soil pH – The pH of the soil is important in so far as certain elements, vital for plant function and growth, can only be accessed by the plant within a certain pH range. Outside this range the nutrients become “locked” by the soil and so the plant does not thrive.
Biochar – Biochar has been touted as a multi-pronged agricultural/horticultural and garden solution to improving soil fertility, lowering the need for artificial fertilisers, and a method of carbon sequestration.