5 Tricks to Improve Your Soil

Ever wanting to have an edible garden of your own? Home garden filled with chillis, tomatoes, herbs and leafy vegetables at hand’s reach? Before going into details on how to plant, we need to improve the structure and fertility of the soil before planting plants into the ground. Like humans, plants need a balanced diet of beneficial microbes, minerals and nutrients. Here is 5 easy tricks you can apply:

  1. Adding composts, composts & composts! Adding composts to current soil in the garden is the easiest and sure way to improve fertility and structure in the soil. Adding composts will enhance the water retention of the soil and increase the activity and number of soil organism. You can get supply of composts from local organic garden stores or local farms that you can contact. Composts are decomposed organic matter made from kitchen waste, animal manures, unused green leaves and dried leaves. All piled up to decompose till the pile becomes a dark and soft black soil called humus.
  1. Make permanent raised garden beds. Making raised beds will ensure that nutrients do not easily run-off from where the plants will be planted. It also prevents from stepping on garden beds that will compact and destroy soil structure. Raised beds also increases the drainage of excess water during heavy rainy season
  1. Planting cover crops on exposed soil. Recommended cover crops are plants from the legume family such as gotu kola (antanan), peanuts and clover. Legume plants as mentioned grow easily in any type of soil and are purposely planted to condition infertile soil. These plants capture nitrogen from the air and add free nitrogen into the soil. They also can also can be a good source of greens/biomass needed for composting or chopped off and drop it and mix it to the soil so as to add organic matter. Planting cover crops will also retain water needed for plants and microbial activity.
  1. Reduce tillage on soil. Heavy tillage is needed only in the beginning part of gardening when deep-rooted weeds like teki and alang-alang need to be taken out of the soil. However, after that tillage should not be frequently done as it will destroy the natural soil layer/ structure you have built over time. In order to loosen soil, a broad fork can be used to poke through the soil in a slow motion without bringing much disruption.
  1. Never use herbicide or pesticide. Using herbicide or pesticide will instantly kill millions or billions of soil organism that we need for growth of healthy plants through a whole biodiversity and activities of the soil web system. It will need a great amount of time again to achieve to its healthy state again.
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