Building a garden that’s strong and healthy heavily relies on its soil. Though it is true that some gardeners are lucky enough to find the type of soil ideal for a flourishing garden, it goes without question that majority of us would have to work hard in order to create enrich the soil we have. Sometimes the soil in your area or the soil most accessible to you would contain too much clay. It may also contain too much sand. It might be too acidic. This is not something you should be sad about, because turning your soil into that which is best for organic vegetable gardening is completely doable.
Soil is composed of minerals, water, air and organic matter. While these four components mix and blend together to create soil that’s healthy, what you really want to look at is the organisms that thrive in that soil. This includes your worms, insects, your micro-organisms. When they thrive it means your soil is healthy. When they thrive, it also means that they are also contributing to that ecosystem.
Having said that, to create the soil best for organic vegetable gardening, there are a few things you should consider. This is especially true when it comes to dealing its components.
When it comes to minerals, you have to understand that your soil is composed of small bits of weathered rock that have come naturally through biological, chemical and physical processes. These include phenomena like rain, freezing, wind, and so on. The soil type classification relies on the size of these soil particles. Sand has large particles. Silt has medium-sized ones and clay has very small particles. These determine the texture of the soil as well as how much it moisture and nutrients it can retain. This affects how your plants will grow.
When the soil is too hard, rocky, soggy or deficient of nutrients, it doesn’t make for good breeding grounds for plants such as vegetables. You would want to look for soil that is rich in nutrients, soft, and where roots can grow deeply in order to absorb the nutrients in the soil.
The organic matter that resides in your soil is just as important. The lichens, grasses, leaves, mosses and other organic matter turn soil particles into porous granules. Those allow air and water to pass through the soil. Organic matter also retains moisture and helps store and absorb nutrients.
Creating healthy soil is about creating a good balance with these elements. Sometimes, your soil would need a little help, and this is why fertilizer is commonly used. Commercial fertilizer, although seemingly effective, tend to harm the environment where it is used because of the toxic chemical content. This commonly leads to health-related issues. In organic farming, the best way to help fertilize your soil is through adding compost. This can come in the form of animal manure, rotting food, or moss.
When tending to the organic life there is in the soil, you can also pay attention to the organisms that live inside it. These are beings such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, mites, earthworms, and so on. Their excretions help facilitate soil particles and turn them into loose soil so more water could pass through as well. Being able to provide a good environment for these organisms is your goal as a gardener as well. It will help your vegetables in the long run. This is done by providing them with rich sources of food, oxygen and water.
In order to create healthy soil for your vegetable garden, you would want to create a kind of soil that can allow air to pass through smoothly. These are needed by the organisms that live in your soil, as well as by your vegetables itself. We mean from leaves to roots. You would want soil with tiny spaces between them. You don’t want it to be too big to decompose matter too speedily, and not too small to suffocate it. To facilitate this kind of balanced supply, adding plenty of organic matter helps. Using heavy equipment and working on the soil while it’s still heavily wet are dangerous when trying to achieve that air supply balance in your soil, so avoid that as much as possible.
Likewise, holding in water is important for the soil. Pores in the soil must allow for water to pass through and reach the roots of your vegetables. Ideally, you would want a balance between large and small slits in your soil, which is why integrating organic matter via composting is the best way to go. You wouldn’t want your soil to be too sandy. The spaces would be too large and the water would drain out quickly because they pass by the slits just as quickly. You wouldn’t want spaces to be too small either, disallowing for roots to be watered.
These are all important in being able to foster the kind of soil that can facilitate abundant growth for your organic vegetable garden, however it’s just as important to find out what soil type you have first. You can do this by conducting a soil test, which is used to assess what kind of soil you have as well as assess the pH level of the soil.
You can conduct your own soil test by purchasing a kit, or making one at home. You first fill one-third of a jar with topsoil, then fill the rest of the jar with water. Screw on the lid and shake the mixture until all soil has dissolved. Set the jar on the windowsill and watch the soil components separate. After hours of leaving it undisturbed, heavier components will settle to the bottom. This is how you find out what exactly are the contents of your soil, and whether they make for soil that’s not too hard and not too soggy for your vegetables.
All in all, the best type of soil for your garden is silt. This is soil that has particles of medium size, as the soil needed for vegetable gardening requires spaces of the right size for air and water to pass through. Nonetheless, there are natural ways by which your soil can be adjusted to better fit the needs of your vegetables, mostly via composting.