The Real Dirt On Soil

There are a lot of people who look down at spot of bare earth and say look at that patch of dirt. A true gardener looks down and sees instead an opportunity to transform that patch of dirt into a wonderful garden. The important thing is to understand what you are really looking at. Dirt is truly not a very descriptive name for a bustling and thriving ecosystem with millions of micro organisms, invertebrates, and vertebrates crawling around in it. It could be considered a recycling plant, for it reprocesses dead plants and animals into a beneficial substance that helps renew the earth. So dirt is really not an appropriate name for the soil beneath our feet.

The soil is made up of many things and it is important to understand that healthy soil is the cornerstone of the garden. Without healthy soil no garden can ever attain it’s true potential. If you want to have a truly spectacular vegetable garden than the most important thing you can do is to concentrate on building a healthy soil. Good soil has a deep dark rich earthy smell that is loose and full of life. It should be able to retain moisture yet not become water logged. I would think that if there was anyone thing I would recommend for a new gardener to learn about it is the science of soil improvement. Just like a building requires a good foundation so does a garden and healthy rich soil is a must have for this to happen.

Some of the things that a typical gardener does is probably a bigger hindrance than it is a help to the soil. Tilling is probably one of the worst things for maintaining a healthy vegetable garden. Tilling destroys the structure of the soil and the capillaries and air space that form and are required for the absorption of water and the exchange of gases. The second biggest mistake is to walk on the soil this compacts it and does more harm than tilling. The third thing is the addition of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

A good garden bed should be constructed on a rich vibrant soil filled with organic material. Once you have constructed your garden bed you should not walk on it again. Instead of using chemical fertilizers you should be adding compost and working it into the soil with a spade or fork. Never leave the soil uncovered if you are not planting it either mulch it or grow a green cover crop to protect it from eroding due to the sun wind and rain. When planting be sure to plant close together and mulch this will eliminate weeds that will also leach moisture and nutrients from your garden bed. By working in compost and keeping the soil protected from the elements and invasive weeds you are building it and will be rewarded with a wonderful growing medium that will never disappoint when it comes to growing a superior crop.

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The Real Dirt On Soil — 5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Noe Valley Real Estate » How to go about Garden Soil Preparation

  2. Ok, another question :) What PH level do you recommend for a veg. garden? My bed has settled in the past 3 years since we filled it, and I’m not sure if I should buy more bags of compost, black dirt or?
    Thanks!

    • Lilly the average vegetable garden soil should be 6.5-7 the neutral range. The best thing you can do is to add compost to your soil it will break down but that is what it is meant to do. The important thing is to keep your soil healthy. to refill your bed I would suggest three to four inches of compost and a good garden soil if you need to add more than three to four inches. Use a garden fork and work the soil up to mix everything together. Loosen and mix down to 10″ to 12″ and you should have a great garden this year. Please let me know how it does.

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