Healthy Soil

Many people don’t realise our soil is alive with micro-organisms that help plants take up nutrients. Healthy soil has incredible biodiversity with bugs and worms and can store carbon dioxide. Healthy soil equals healthy plants and a healthy planet.

 

Know your soil type

Soil may contain clay, sand and/or loam. Clay has small particles that can pack together to be heavy and dense, sand is coarse particles which water and nutrients drain through easily. Loam is a mix of sand and clay with organic matter mixed in. Different soil types need different gardening approaches. Get on top of your soil health with our top tips. 

Build healthy soil
Our top tips for improving soil health include:

  • Let your soil breathe (weed matting is bad for soil as it stops airflow).
  • Feed plants natural fertilisers such as worm tea, seaweed tea, or manure, but avoid synthetic herbicides and pesticides if you can.
  • Apply compost or mulches like lawn clippings to your garden (but avoid mulching too close to tree trunks, as it can burn them.)
  • Break up clay soil by mixing in gypsum (a lime-based soil conditioner) and compost.
  • Water plants with the rinse water from empty milk bottles or yogurt pottles
  • Avoid planting the same plants in the same spot every year.  Instead, rotate the planting scheme in your vegetable patch, following this pattern:
    • Season One: Plant legumes (peas and beans) or green manure crops (Mustard, lupins)
    • Season Two: Plant heavy feeders (tomatoes, aubergine, capsicum, brassicas, leafy greens, celery, onions, garlic)
    • Season Three: Plant light feeders (carrots, parsnip, beetroot, potatoes).

Adjusting soil acidity to suit your plants
Many plants thrive in slightly acidic soils, but others prefer slightly alkaline. You can adjust the soil Ph to suit your plants. Add coffee, pine needles and grass clippings to make soil more acidic. Add very small amounts of wood ash and lime to make soil more alkaline.