Soil improvement is and has been throughout the ages a fundamental part of sustainable agriculture. Organic gardening is sustainable agriculture. You replenish what you use. Good soil is the basis of any successful food production and without it — crops struggle.
It seems to me contradictory that someone could be seriously interested in growing crops and not be serious about taking steps to improve their soil. It’s not difficult. It’s already been proven by many (including myself) that it can be done. So that’s not the issue. Do you want to do it? That is the issue.
Everything in life is cumulative. In other words, whatever actions you take increase in quantity, degree, or force when you take them again and again. If you start to garden and continue with actions that do not improve the soil and replenish the earth, you get more poor soil, poor crops, pests, etc. If you start to improve and replenish your soil, it gets better and so do your crops. It also gets a lot easier to work.
Every small task done in the interest of soil improvement pays off. Your return on this small investment of time will be crops with higher yields, drought resistance, and fewer disease and pest problems —not to mention superior taste.
Gardening without continual soil improvement is like building a house without any foundation and saying you didn’t have time to put in the foundation. You know that house won’t stand.
Soil that is clay or sand is difficult to work and does not grow the best crops. If the gardener makes no effort to improve it, then the next season will certainly be as difficult or more so than the season before. With continual steps to improve the soil —no matter how small—working it becomes easier and easier and all the rewards that come with having good soil become yours.
When I first started gardening 32 years ago I had clay soil. After only 3 seasons of adding organic matter, I had soil that was more friable, well-drained and a lot “fluffier” than the original clay. I’ve had lots of people over the years tell me you can’t change clay soil. I know for a fact that is incorrect. You can change it — and its not all that hard. You just have to want to.
When we started our current garden 12 years ago, I had sandy soil. After only 3 seasons it looked just about like the soil I had at the other garden just not quite as dense.
If you have not improved your soil you are not getting the best return on your investment. Every effort you make to improve soil is like putting your time, effort and money invested in a savings account that you can draw from in future years. It’s ROI – return on investment.
Its never too late to start. Soil preparation and adding organic matter are the keys. I’ll cover each in the posts to follow.