You may have noticed that your garden doesn’t seem to be producing as well as it once did, but you’re determined to keep your garden organic, which means that you can’t use synthetic fertilizers. If this is the situation that you find yourself in, you have two choices: move your garden or take steps to improve your soil. Here are 3 tips that you can use to help your plants flourish in your soil once again.
Feed Your Soil
Organic garden soil needs to be fed just like any other soil. It’s a misconception that the only reason that farmers have to use fertilizer is because of the damage that the chemicals they apply to their farms cause. Left on its own, the soil in organic gardens quickly become depleted of naturally occurring nutrients and minerals. The only way to restore them is to add more organic matter and minerals to it.
You can achieve this best by using a variety of sources for organic materials, such as livestock manure to increase the nitrogen levels, and recycled organic waste. These organic materials can be easily composted at home. It is recommended that you add small amounts of this compost to your garden every year, about a quarter inch of it, to slow down the loss of nutrients.
Avoid Tilling Your Soil
There are a variety of reasons to adopt a no-till gardening approach, and perhaps the most important of all is that it allows the gardener to take advantage of certain soil-building benefits, such as that provided by earth worms and other burrowing creatures. These organisms accomplish much of the same thing as tilling is intended to achieve, such as loosening the soil, while also keeping it full of organic matter.
Another reason to avoid tilling is that it destroys the fungal networks that are so essential for holding the soil together so it won’t get blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain. It also destroys the humus, which is necessary for plant health, making it necessary to replenish the minerals and nutrients more often.
Plant Cover Crops
Possibly the most important step that you can take to improve your organic garden soil is to plant cover crops. Doing so will help to increase its fertility while simultaneously improving the soil structure. Cover crops provide an abundance of necessary nutrients for soil microbes, and the channels created as the roots decay permit additional oxygen and water to enter into the soil.
Legumes, such as alfalfa, peas, and beans, are particularly valuable because they draw nitrogen directly from the atmosphere and transform it into a form that makes it available to your garden plants. It’s usually a good idea to mix different cover crops for the best results, such as clover and grasses, to get a better balance of improved soil structure and improved soil nutrient quality.
Give these three tips a try in your garden. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your garden bounces back, and how much your yields increase each passing year.