What are the 5 components of healthy soil?
One of the biggest challenges down on the Urban Farm is keeping our soil healthy. In fact it is an ongoing process of adding organic compost and a nice bit of only organic fertilizers. Healthy soil is made of five important components and when one of them is missing…well gardening becomes very hard.
The two most obvious ingredients are dirt and organic matter and are the bulk of what you see. Dirt is decomposed rock that contains many of the micronutrients and minerals that plants need to thrive. Organic material made up of sticks, leaves, compost and mulch, break down very quickly and need to be added often.
Air space and water are the next two ingredients in healthy soil that contribute to the success of your garden. Highly compacted soil (dirt minus the air spaces) leaves no place for the roots to venture giving them no place to grow. Water for obvious reasons makes the whole process go. One caveat – roots do not travel to find water, the water needs to come to them.
So what else could there be? In my humble opinion the most important component for a successful garden — all living things that occupy the space…worms, bugs and a plethora of valuable microorganisms whose names I cannot pronounce. Without which our gardens cannot thrive. Which leads to our next big issue, keeping your garden in balance.
Nature brings a certain order and balance to our gardens that when we nurture it, the success of our plantings are greater. By adding harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides in effect we are throwing nature balance off, making the environment more susceptible to pests. Adding lots of compost rich in microbial life, organic fertilizer and only using natural pest controls will take you a long way in keeping your garden in balance.
I have found over and over when I honor this process the bounty is great and sometimes overwhelming. Next time I’ll share a process that you can make a whole lot of great soil where you want it, in just a few months.