Killer Garden Soil that Grows Plants Like CrazyJuly 25th, 2014 by Trisha
Its no secret, good soil grows good plants. You know it, I know it, but the experts in the horticultural trades are learning more… Agriculturists are discovering soil secrets to grow healthy, gargantuan plants that cut fertilizer costs to a minimum. Good soil is all it takes.
Plants have an immune system, just like people do. Good soil grows healthy plants with a strong immunity able to absorb nutrients and fend off disease and insects. Healthy plants thrive without chemical dependency. Chemicals are in fact detrimental to the long term health of your soil because they kill off the microbes.
Lets let a pro explain the soil biology (If youre interested in growing super healthy plants watch this! then watch it again in 6 months)
So, you got it? Bacteria and fungus. thousands of different types, all helping you grow bigger better plants. Aint nature grand?
How to Make Good Garden Soil. Starting from Scratch
How do I get beneficial microbes into my soil? That’s the best part, theyre already IN there. You just have keep them happy and feed them well so they can multiply.
Fungus loves roots. roots love fungus (fungi to be correct). They feed each other and help one another grow. It’s the greatest love affair of all time. Lets figure out how to fan the flames.
Humus + Beneficial Bacteria and Fungus (inoculant) + Plants (roots)
Its the perfect environment. Soil humus (loam) is filled with fluffy organic matter containing nutrients that feed both microbe and plant. Its the perfect environment for both to thrive.
Adding organic matter to the soil each year helps the symbiosis GO. If you have space and materials to make your own compost, its so much fun and an ultra effective way to create soil your plants will love. I’d never leave my garden without it!
Wood Chips are also an excellent source of organic matter. I’ve added them as an ingredient in my compost. You’d be surprised how fast they break down when theyre mixed in. And always, every year, we lay on a super thick, 6″ layer of woodchips as mulch to help control weeds. It’s insanely effective. Where we live, wood chips are plentiful and FREE! If your town doesnt deliver free wood chips, try out AboutTrees.com to help you find them. If they cant help you, you can also call local tree services. I’ve even flagged down tree trimmers while they’re working in the neighborhood so they can deliver the chips immediately when they’re done with their job. You’d get a kick out of our reaction to the sound of a nearby chipper. Seriously, its like kids running for the ice cream truck.
I’ll never understand why some people are angered by wood chips in the garden. The woman working at the hardware store actually told me that ‘when the roots hit the woodchips, or an air pocket in between, they die’. I nodded my head politely and went about my business. Id rather pay attention to what people do to get results… Check out Garden Seeks blog post about using woodchips in the garden soil. The winner in this experiment was a 50% woodchip/garden soil mix.
Bacteria and Fungi already live in the soil. Keep feeding them with organic matter. You can leave plant roots in the soil after every season to provide food and organic matter. You can also ‘inoculate’ your soil by adding even more bacteria and fungi. I purchased a form of inoculant, the Jobes/Proven Winners brand just yesterday. Its filled with bacteria and fungi (oh my). But if youre really motivated you can make your own!
How to Make Your Own Inoculant
The Master gardeners in Gwinnett County Georgia came up with this method. (the procedure is at the bottom of the page. It takes a whole summer, but seems easy and like a lot of fun. In short, you’ll grow an annual plant that is known to form mycorrhizae, in sand. The roots will entirely fill the pot of sand by the end of the summer. Cut off the plant and save the root filled sand in a cool dry place until next season. Now you have a home made organic fertilizer to sprinkle on your plants or mix in with your garden or potting soil!
Mychorriza (my-kor-eye-za) is the mutual relationship between roots and fungus. The ‘Rhizosphere’ is the 1 inch area immediately surrounding the plants roots where bacteria and fungus congregate and cycle nutrients. They feed off of the carbon content of plant roots then poop them out, at the root making these nutrients more available to the plant.
Farmers have begun to realize that no part of their land should be ever without some kind of plant. They grow cover crops in between rows or in rotation. Crops like vetch, rye grass and soybeans are turned back into the soil. This adds organic matter (food for fungi) back to the soil, prevents compaction, helps retain moisture and grows great plants!
SO there you have it. Nutrient rich garden soil, able to grow healthy, disease resistant plants without tilling or chemicals and much much less prone to weeds.