When you are trying to do your gardening in a more organic fashion, this endeavor won’t simply start with buying heirloom plants or doing things like avoiding pesticides. Organic gardening actually begins several steps earlier than that, with your preparation of the soil itself.
After all, apart from using water and sunlight to energize the process, this is where the plants will acquire most of the nutrients they need to grow properly. If they don’t have nutritious soil, you won’t get very healthy plants, which will likely defeat your purpose in trying to garden “organically” in the first place.
So what is necessary for nutritious, healthy soil, as a foundation for your organic garden?
You’ll need to do some research to refine the details, and it will be best if you consult with an organic gardening expert if you’re really serious about this. But here are a few basic tips to start with.
According to the Tanger Green website, there are four prime ingredients that your soil must contain: lime, phosphate, marl, and humus.
Lime, in the form of ground limestone, helps maintain a good pH balance, and must also contain magnesium and calcium for good plant growth. Phosphate provides the phosphorus that all plants need, and should be applied in your garden once every four years. Marl is rock powder that contains potassium, which works hand in hand with the phosphorus.
All three of those things should be applied with the help of a consultant. And it would probably be a good idea to start with soil testing in your garden first, to make sure what the existing levels are. That will help determine just how much of each element you need.
Humus, meanwhile, is essentially compost. You can buy this at an organic gardening supply store, and it can be made either of animal manures or from a vegetable base. In fact, you can create your own compost at home, starting with a base like straw, and adding vegetative matter like the leaves you raked up from your lawn as well as some of the remains of the previous year’s garden. And one of the best sources of materials will be vegetable peelings from your own kitchen.
You can buy compost bins, with instructions on other materials to add that will give you a rich source of organic matter to work into the soil of your garden. If you just want to develop a compost pile yourself, without a lot of extra cost, you would still be wise to do some online research or speak with organic gardening experts, for advice on how to go about it. There are pitfalls you’ll need to avoid, that you might not even think about. For example, while the compost pile should be damp, it shouldn’t be allowed to get too wet. And although you can use the remains of the previous year’s garden, if you had plants that had a serious insect problem, those leaves and branches should be discarded and not put into the compost pile.
You can create a genuinely organic, healthy garden if you start at the foundation: preparing the soil so it will contain all the nutrients your plants will need.