Gardening Blunder #3

February 14, 2006

The previous gardening blunder examined the importance of protecting beneficial insects; today’s blunder examines the importance of your vegetable garden’s soil for healthy plant growth.

Garden Blunder: Feeding Plants Instead of the Soil

Some gardeners view fertilization as the cure all when it comes to caring for their plants. They grab a bag of fertilizer with the highest numbers that they can find, till it into the garden each spring and assume that it will provide their plants with everything needed to bear a productive harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables.

This practice sometimes results in the disappointment of leggy tomato vines with no fruit, plants that are more susceptible to insect infestations, or a garden soil that is deficient in micro nutrients and trace elements.

What’s overlooked is the critical importance of the soil itself in the entire growing process. Garden soil is much more than simply dirt, or a foundation for the plants to grow on. In fact, a healthy garden soil is just as much alive as the plants that are grown in it.

Health and Life of the Garden Soil

The soil in our garden breathes, takes up and processes nutrients, supports many life forms, and can actually grow in a manner similar to the plants themselves. It’s the soil, containing millions of microorganisms and organic compounds that actually feeds and supplies nutrients in a form that plants can utilize. We frequently take the soil for granted and do little to enrich or improve it.

You can improve your garden and enjoy healthier plants by focusing more attention on the condition of the soil and worrying less about fertilizing the plants. Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. Maintaining a fertile soil that’s active and full of life will help ensure that your plants are receiving everything needed to support their health and productivity.

Unfortunately many of the practices that we employ in the garden such as frequent tilling, applying chemicals and pesticides to the soil, and leaving the ground exposed to the elements, destroys the vitality of the soil and eventually leads to other problems in the vegetable garden.

Healthy Soil Solution: Organic Practices

On a positive note it’s possible to restore health and vitality to even poor soils by following simple techniques and practices such as crop rotation, composting, and growing cover crops, which increase the amount of organic matter, improve the texture of the soil, and encourage the presence of beneficial soil microorganisms.

The next gardening blunder will take a look at the way that you water the vegetable garden.





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