During my 25 years as an organic horticulturalist I was often asked “what do you do to grow such healthy looking vegetable’s?”
The answer is quite simple and involves doing what you have to do and do it when you have to do it. Put simply – a matter of performing certain tasks according to a plan. No special science knowledge is required however some understanding of plant growth and performance characteristics certainly helps. Like most things the more you do it the easier it becomes, particularly if you observe closely what happens each season and record it. Many conditions of the soil effect the growth of bacteria. Among the most important of these are the supply of oxygen and moisture, temperature and the amount and nature of the soil matter and H ion concentration of the soil solution [PH] as well as the amount of exchangeable calcium present.
It is noteworthy that recent well known Scientist Dr Arden Anderson during a series of presentations to NZ farmers told them that the key ingredients to more sustainable soils was biology and fine lime [ calcium].
Most garden soils have one advantage over farm soils in that they have not been depleted of soil organic matter to the same extent as larger scale farmed soils and thus will have a better soil structure.
Having said that many home gardeners continue to apply chemical fertilisers and chemical pesticides in increasing amounts without any regard for their soil and thus do not realise that they too have joined the race to deplete the soil of organic matter and the soil life contained within.
Change can be effected by managing your garden soils in a more sustainable manner, by:
- regular application of organic matter in the form of compost or fermented food waste
- organic nutrients such as seaweed powder, rock dust and hydrated lime. The latter will assist in re-mineralizing soil of depleted trace minerals not normally available in N.P K. fertilisers.
In addition, applications of soil microbial inoculants such as Earth Zing will help rebalance the soil of micro-organisms so essential to plant and other microlife.
Thus soil biological activity should be stimulated giving –
- faster nutrient cycling
- breakdown of organic debris and other matter
- improved soil structure
- improved water infiltration reducing runoff and improving soil moisture
- soil aggregates improving soil aeration, drainage around and water retention within, and rooting depth.