In the first two posts I covered how important it is to balance the mineralization in the soil in order to be able to grow the kinds of plants we want to grow, and then how to increase organic matter in soil the way nature does it.
Now I want to get into the third part of this soil health triangle, the soil food web.
This refers to the life in the soil, especially the bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, and the insects and other small animals.
The plants are part of this too since they have a tremendous impact on the soil.
In the last post I talked about improving soil mineralization.
Now I want to discuss another aspect of organic soil health that is important for so many things: organic matter in soil.
Organic matter refers partially to living things like roots and fungi, but in this context it mostly means everything that used to be alive.
That means fresh fallen leaves and recently deceased snakes and beetles, to the coarse mulch layer when these things are partially decomposed, to the very stable humus when they’re fully broken down which stays around in the soil for years.
Welcome to the first of three steps on how we can learn from nature when it comes to improving garden health, especially organic soil health.
(You'll see me swatting at mosquitoes and these other biting bugs here and there - they sure were thick when we got deep into the jungle).
All three steps are equally important, but the first I tend to think about is balancing soil minerals, the main reason being that I want to get a soil test analyzed as soon as possible when I’m working on a new garden because it can take a couple of weeks to get results.
Admittedly, this first post is more about how our organic gardens differ from a forest with regards to fertility than how it is the same, but it’s a very useful comparison.
Hey guys, guess where I am?
Okay, I gave it away in the title. I’m in the Amazon jungle!
Heather and I are living in Peru for 3 months. While we’re here I’m learning a few things about growing food in the tropics.
But while we're in the jungle I’m mostly just trying to pay attention to the nature around me.
You can learn a lot about organic gardening if you take the time to observe nature.
Happy New Year Everyone!
I thought it would be fun to update you on what's been going on at SmilingGardener.com in 2012 and what I'll be up to in 2013.
First, thanks to everyone for your support, for leaving questions and comments on my blog or sending me an email.
I can't respond to most emails, but I do really appreciate your enthusiasm for organic gardening.
It's November, which means:
The most important task for preparing a garden for winter is getting that soil good and covered.
There are a few ways you can tackle that:
Yes, weeds can be a bummer, but many gardeners don’t know there are a lot more benefits of weeds than downsides.
Besides, they’re easily controlled in the garden with mulch.
The lawn is definitely trickier. I had one client who’s front lawn had more weeds than grass.
There are a couple of important things I want to share about how to use mulch in your organic garden.
When we were kids we would help our aunt and uncle put their vegetable garden to rest for the winter, using leaves for mulch.
We’d collect them into a pile, jump into them and play a while, mow over them with the lawnmower, then pile the mulched pieces onto the soil.
Yesterday morning, Haley had an interesting encounter with a sniffling boy and his grandmother.
It prompted us to put together a short medicinal plants list of 5 plants you may want to consider for your own organic garden.
It’s fall bulb planting time!
We’ve been especially aware of that this week because my sister Haley has been living in Amsterdam during the last few years.
And of course you can hardly think of the Netherlands without images of bountiful tulip bulbs bursting out of the ground.
I visited her in 2010, and surprisingly, the plant life is quite similar to back home.
In Amsterdam, they have mild winters and (generally) cool summers leaving plenty of lush green around the city year round.
And since it’s getting cooler, now’s the time to start considering your fall bulb planting.
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