How to Build Healthy Organic Soil
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Organic Soil Gardening How To Guide :
Those new to organic gardening sometimes think that growing one's own vegetables is all that that needed to be an organic gardener. But without those vegetables are grown in healthy soil, the results may be less than ideal. Not only that, but some soil may contain unhealthy levels of lead or be on property which had contaminants. So it is important to be sure to start with good to excellent soil.
It is really not hard to make sure that soil meets the requirements.
- First, consider the land. If it is in your backyard, think about the history of your home and land. Did you buy an older home which may have contained lead? Was reconstruction or remodeling done after purchase? If so, consider having your soil tested. This can be done professionally or with the help of home soil tests. Of course, you'll want to take steps to remove lead from soil.
If lead exists in the soil, you may need grow crops and vegetables in containers located in an area of the yard that does not have high lead levels.
- A community garden. These allow gardeners to have individual plots or take home a portion of all vegetables grown, depending on the policies. They also help gardeners to network with others, make friends and have fun while participating in growing organic vegetables in the community.
How do you make sure your soil is rich in nutrients and likely to promote healthy vegetables?
First, consider the types of herbs and vegetables you want to grow.
Some are very heavy feeders while others are not. Make sure you know not only your growing zone but what type of soil exists where you want to put your plants. Even in areas of the country where the soil tends to be very healthy, there can be patches of clay, sandy or other soil.
- The nutrient content of the soil can also vary widely, with some areas of the same yard having rich, woodland soil while other areas have very little soil and many rocks (difficult to plow). There are testing kits to determine soil content, either done professionally or with home testing. Of course, you can "test" an area by seeing which plants do well but it is better to start with some knowledge of the soil itself.
Start with a visual test.
Also, do not be afraid to start feeling the soil.
- As odd as this may seem, good soil will have a certain feel. If there are plenty of earthworms, that is an excellent sign. Dark, loose soil and plenty of earthworms can be a sign of healthy, organic soil (assuming you've already tested for harmful substances). Adding compost to your soil will help add the nutrition. Of course, you'll want to avoid pesticides and substances that are high in dangerous chemicals. You are aiming for soil that is very loose and porous.
Next, make sure you know the PH level in your soil.
Depending on test results, you'll want to make sure your soil is either too acid or alkaline.
- With luck, the PH will be ideal. Now it is time to move on to digging through the dirt. Is the soil compacted, with little space for plants to get air and water. If so, you may need to use a tiller or other equipment to break up the soil. The final step is to consider adding amendments, or extra fertilizers or nutrients to the soil. Garden centers often carry the specific types needed for certain areas but be sure to use organically friendly products.
These beginning steps will help to build organic soil. Using rain barrels to collect water for the garden can also help to keep chemicals from the soil (depending on the chemical levels in drinking water).