Mulch – Feeding your Soil Life

Organic methods work! And if you’re feeding your soil in every way you can — you’ll see better and better results with each passing season.

I’m not a scientist but I really enjoy learning  about the intricate network of creatures (some microscopic and some not) that live and work in my garden.

I remember the first time I encountered the term “mycorrhizal fungi” on a package of grow mix.  In my ignorance I exclaimed — “Oh no! they’ve added a chemical to my grow mix!”

The fact is mycorrhizal fungi is a beneficial fungi.  It grows in and around plant roots.  And you know what it does?  It sends out growth to mine the subsoil for nutrients and water to share with your crops!

In addition, there are plenty of microorganisms that help prevent diseases in your garden and help your plants offer strong resistance to insect attacks.

In order for us to have ALL these microorganisms in our garden — we have to provide enough food for them.  Otherwise — they won’t be there.

One of the best ways to provide food for the soil is through the roots of crops in the soil — both the ones producing food for us and cover crops.  At the very least — we should have our soil mulched because organic mulches like leaves, grass clippings, etc. – in addition to everything else they do — feed our soil life.

The more you feed your soil life the less problems you’ll have with diseases and insects. The better your soil — the fewer problems you’re going to have.  And that’s a fact in spite of the lies that conventional agriculture promotes.

Just recently I stumbled upon an article in Mother Earth News written by Doreen G. Howard in 2003.  Ms. Howard wrote for the Old Farmer’s Almanac All-Season Garden Guide for many years.

In writing about feeding the soil life, she mentioned the fact that many diseases are prevented or slowed by beneficial fungi living in mulch.

I thought it particularly interesting that a North Carolina State University study (even back then) showed that only a tiny percent of tomatoes (3%) that had been mulched (with a composted organic mulch) became infected with Southern blight — compared to 66 % that became infected in the unmulched plants in the study.

As it turns out, the composted mulch was an ideal breeding ground for beneficial fungi which killed or prevented the blight.  So although numerous disease-causing bacteria and fungi are in soil — a healthy soil (and thus a healthy soil life) allows beneficial microbes to control or eliminate those that cause problems.


Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • Hello Theresa,

    I live in Appomattox County Va near the James River. I would LOVE it if my husband & I could tour your garden & ask questions.

    I’ve always wanted to grow our own food organically(my husband, not so much, but he is learning), but I’ve not been able to grow enough to provide us enough fruits & veggies year-round.

    I just found your website today from a link you provided on the garden-web organic gardening site.

    You are on my favorites & I will read all of your posts.

    I don’t check my email very often in the summer, but I will until I hear from you.


  • Hi Theresa!

    “One of the best ways to provide food for the soil is through the roots of crops in the soil — both the ones producing food for us and cover crops.”

    I really hooked onto this statement. Do you think there is ever a reason to pull any plants up – aside from them being noticeably infected/diseased? If not, then I’m going to start snipping EVERYTHING out and leaving the roots from now on.

    Thanks so much!

  • Hi Bearfoot Mama,
    The only reason in addition to the one about being noticeably infected/diseased — would be if you needed to use the space right away.

    I just cut my first planting of peas yesterday. Left all the roots in. Dug one small area to put some other plants in. The pea roots will just decay and benefit the new planting.

    Glad you “hooked” onto this Patricia. It will benefit your garden a lot!

  • Betty, I sent you an email but have not heard from you so will answer here.

    Because of our work schedule we are unable to entertain visitors to see the gardens.

    TMG has over 400 posts that should answer the majority of questions that you have. Also, you
    may email me when you have a question that is not answered on the site.

    Hope you’ll keep me updated on how you are doing.

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