Best Ways to Improve Garden Soil Quality
Discover the best ways to improve the quality of your garden soil without having to spend a lot. So whether it is a backyard garden that you’re on, or just a few indoor plants, here’s how you can take things up a notch!
Chopped Leaves (or Leaf Mold)
Those fallen leaves don’t need to go waste anymore. Leaves are packed with minerals, and adding them to garden soil can make them a great natural feed for earthworms and other microbes. What’s more, they can also lighten heavy clay soils, and improve moisture retainment in lighter sandy soils. Leaves are also an excellent source of carbon, and increase the nutrients in the soil readily.
If you’re planning to add leaves to your garden, it is best to chop them first, or even better, just mow over them a few times with a lawn mower and then rake them up and place them right on top of your garden beds and allow them to decompose.
Got a lot of leaves? You can also make leaf mold by taking those chopped leaves and then bagging them for upto a year and then using them whenever needed.
If you’ve been into gardening for a long time, you may have heard about the Back to Eden gardening method that makes use of wood chips as mulch for your garden. One of the best benefits of this method is that it reduces soil erosion and also reduces the growth of weeds, which tend to compete for nutrients from the soil. Better water retention is also observed.
Wood chips in general, help increase the nutritive value of the soil since they break down and compose on top of it. You can find wood chips for free through tree services or in any of your local green recycling facilities.
Wood ash that’s leftover in your fireplace or wood burning stove is also a great soil enhancer. It contains a good amount of potassium and calcium and other micronutrients. Wood ash also helps improve the pH of soil and makes it more alkaline thereby making the growth of acid loving plants unfavorable.
Wood ash can also be an excellent replacement for lime, which is usually used for oils with low pH.
Your Kitchen Scraps
Believe it or not, but the leftovers in your kitchen are actually a gold mine and can help improve your garden’s soil quality dramatically from those eggshells to the banana peels and even your coffee grounds. You can create a compost pile and add the leftovers there daily and then use it when it is decomposed, or just dig and have them into your soil immediately.
When mixed into the soil or compost, coffee grounds can do everything from improving soil texture and structure to even repelling certain pests. Coffee grounds tend to be rich in nitrogen and are perfect for the heavy feeders in your garden. If you mix them together with leaf mold, they can make for the perfect mulch in your garden.
Coffee grounds are also highly acidic which makes them a good choice for acid loving plants.
Human urine is actually sterile and is one of the best soil fertilizers out there. It is high in nitrogen and also packs in potassium and phosphorous along with other trace nutrients, all which are readily available for your plants to take up.
Urine can be concentrated too, so it is not a good idea to go and pee directly around your plants, but diluting it with water and composting it with some sawdust in a bucket is a good way to go. Best of all, urine is 100% free and natural, and it can help deter pests from entering your garden too.
Here’s an excellent compost bin to get you started!
Manure from farm animals can also be a rich nutrient source and can be added to your garden beds to improve the quality of garden oil. Pay close attention and see which manures can be added fresh, and which others are needed to be composted prior to feeding them to the soil.
Manure obtained from cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, horses, sheep and even alpacas can work wonderfully.
Spent Hay or Straw
Hay or straw is another great way to improve the nutrient content of your soil. It can be used as a top dressing and you can allow it to decompose on the soil itself. Check with local farms and see if you can find if they are giving away bales that have gotten bad or become wet or moldy, and you can put them to some constructive use.
Inspired enough to get started on some gardening? Why not start with an indoor garden this winter?
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