Organic Soil Treatment for Your Garden Soil
Organic soil management is not quite as straightforward as organic pest control when it comes to changing over from normal modern methods. You must find out what your soil type is — remembering that it can vary appreciably in different parts of the garden — whether it is acid, alkaline or neutral, what the drainage is like, and whether it is fertile or starved of nutrients such as phosphorus.
Managing the soil organically relies heavily on the use of bulky organic manures derived from decaying animal or vegetable residues. These improve and maintain the physical structure of the soil — mixing them into the soil alters the way in which the separate soil particles stick together, ensuring that there is enough air for the roots to develop to their full extent, and for surplus water to drain into the subsoil.
Most soils benefit from the addition of bulky organics — rotting farm manures of cow, pig or horse origin, garden compost, seaweed compost, spent mushroom compost, poultry deep litter and leaf-mould. Peat, now considered an endangered substance, and shredded bark are also organic materials, but are less useful as soil conditioners since they contain little plant food.
Dig any of these organic composts into the soil, thoroughly mixing it in as you go, or use them on the surface as a mulch. Though some types may be difficult to obtain, garden compost can be made all the time, and has the additional advantage that it makes use of most of the garden `rubbish’ — grass clippings, leaves, soft stems, faded flowers, weeds (unless they have set seed), and even fruit and vegetable scraps.
Although the bulky organic composts are primarily used for ensuring a good soil structure, they also contain plant foods and, in a well-maintained soil, will provide sufficient nutrients to produce strong healthy plants.
Think of the soil as a living organism in its own right, rather than as a lifeless substance needing digging and watering. Soil is in fact teeming with living creatures — some microscopic, all feeding, fighting, resting, breeding and dying continuously, and, in the process, having profound effects on the soil particles, gases and moisture. Anything you do to the soil — even walking on it — will alter it.