Yesterday Stephen Scott of Underwood Gardens shared some concepts related to the importance of good soil both in and out of the garden. Today he returns to discuss some changes in the way that we think about and manage our gardens that can go a long way towards improving soil quality in our backyards:
Building or growing living and naturally healthy soil often begins with some mindset changes.
Maximum Quantity vs. Quality in the Home Garden
Most of these are easy for the home gardener, such as quality over quantity. Maximum yield growing is not a normal concept for the home gardener, but is forefront for the industrial producer.
Eliminating chemical use that destroys the living organisms that create the soil and its nutrients is sometimes hard to accept, but all bugs are not bad in the garden. Most bugs go for weakened or nutritionally deficient plants, so they are the symptom, not the true problem.
Addressing the Real Garden Problems rather than Symptoms
Getting rid of the bugs doesn’t solve the underlying nutrient deficiency, only the appearance of the plants. When you dig into the soil and see lots of worms, pill bugs, and other little crawly things, along with some white mold, this is great!
This is exactly what you want to see, as all of these factors combine to break down the compost and other matter into nutrients and minerals that can be used by the plants. When this is happening, the soil has its very own completely operational ecosystem. This is healthy soil.
The Ultimate Benefits of Maintaining a Living Soil Community
There are many really good reference books on what is and how to grow healthy soil, but the premise is easy. Soil must be fed, kept away from chemicals and allowed to develop its multiple layers of living communities that enrich the soil.
Encouragement of all the living things that make up the soil such as worms, pillbugs, fungi, molds, beneficial nematodes and bacteria will keep the soil vibrant and fertile. Once this process is ongoing, the production, flavor and nutrition of the garden will be amazing!
Cindy Scott has a degree in greenhouse management, and is the resident grower in the family. She has been collecting articles on soils, seed saving, and general growing for over 10 years. She developed a Grow Native! Plant Sale and Educational Festival that educates gardeners in the Central Arizona Highlands, that is now in its fourth year.
Stephen Scott has a business background and is an acknowledged chili-head who loves the hotter side of things and loves to cook. The appeal of the garden and growing is to supply the freshest ingredients for the meals! He has a large interest in self sustainability- being able to do and produce most of what one needs. They have built a greenhouse from recycled materials that provides year round produce and plants for the garden.
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