Are you a gardener who’s still adding a little bit of this or a little bit of that “purchased” organic fertilizer to make your soil “better” and/or feed your plants?
Are you of the mind set that buying bagged soil mixed with compost is a great way to grow vegetables?
If you are, you’re probably in good company. I think I’d be safe to say that the majority of gardeners (especially in the United States) are of that mind set.
Unfortunately, it’s based on incorrect information that has it’s roots in marketing by the big chemical companies. And that started more than 150 years ago and has changed the face of agriculture. (I’ve explained that in more detail in various posts and have linked to them at the end of the post as suggested reading.)
So What’s the Right Way?
It’s important to understand that the living organisms in our gardens are the ones that need feeding. They in turn will feed our plants.
The soil organisms are nourished and increased by organic materials such as plant residue and cover crops. They need to be fed every year. If the soil has been depleted of these organisms through abuse, organic materials will bring them back. As they ingest this material and complete the decay process, fertile soil is created. How long it takes, will depend on how abused the soil was.
The healthier your soil, the healthier your crops will be. And healthy crops can resist disease and insect pests.
Organic Residues Supply the Energy for Soil Fertility You’ll Need Next Season
Pile your garden with as much organic material as you can get. It might seem like a lot, but will quickly diminish over the winter months. Your beds should be ready to plant in the spring.
Any plant residue (unless it was diseased) is great for the garden. This would include your finished crops, straw, pine tags, leaves, and weeds that have not seeded. I even cut small branches and twigs and throw them in my paths or beds.
I cut off various plants like tomatoes, peppers, and beans at soil level and leave their roots in the ground over the winter to house and protect various organisms. The above ground portion of the plants I rough cut and leave on the bed. On top of that goes straw, leaves and/or pine tags (a/k/a pine straw). The order doesn’t really matter, although I like to cover the old plants with the other organic materials.
Noted Soil Scientist Agrees 100%
I know all this to be true by doing it over the years. But imagine my delight when I learned that noted soil scientist, Robert Parnes, in his book Soil Fertility agreed 100%.
He goes on to say that the important value of organic residues is their contribution of energy. “It (the energy from organic residues) is required to maintain soil fertility and there is NO substitute.”
Throughout the book and in various ways Mr. Parnes states that ““the major emphasis for good soil management should be on recycling organic residues, —”
In other words, if you’re just buying bagged products and adding them to your soil, maybe it’s time to rethink that.
If you want to know even more, you may want to start with the following three posts:
All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.