Healthy Plants Need Healthy Soil

Improve Your Garden

Here are a few things you can do and not do to improve the health of your soil:

Avoid when wet. Each time we work in or step on wet soil, we squash the small spaces between soil particles, destroying its structure and creating compacted soil. Wait until your soil dries out a bit before getting into the garden, especially during the spring thaw or after a heavy rainfall. Strategically placed stepping-stones and pathways are a simple and attractive way to enable access to your garden when wet.

Feed and build. Top-dressing your garden with a layer of compost is an easy way to improve its overall health. Top-dressing involves spreading a 3–5 centimeter layer of compost on top of the soil. This helps feed the soil, which in turn feeds your plants. Compost can also improve soil structure so that air, water, nutrients, plant roots, and beneficial organisms can move around more easily. You can make your own compost or buy high quality compost from your local nursery or landscaping company.

Do not disturb. Digging and turning-over your soil, which also known as tilling may seem like a good way to “loosen” soil and get rid of weeds, but it actually has the opposite effect. Tilling promotes weed growth, destroys soil structure, and harms beneficial organisms and roots. When top-dressing, you do not need to dig it in. Worms and other soil organisms will gradually move the compost into the soil.

Protect. Sun, wind, and rain can deplete soil and cause erosion. A 5–8 centimeter layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or fallen leaves, will act as a protective blanket against the elements.

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