Soil needs to be fertile to produce robust plant growth and flower blooms. Soil fertility can be depleted through over tillage, over irrigation, over planting and erosion to name just a few reasons why you may need to rejuvenate the soil in your garden.
There are a number of ways to improve your soil.
One of the easiest ways to start rejuvenating your garden soil is by adding mulch. It can also be the most economical way to revive your soil. Each fall mother nature supplies us with fallen leaves. Those leaves can be shredded by your mower and added to your garden beds.
The shredded leaves added to the garden as mulch keeps the weeds down, prevents the bare soil from drying too quickly resulting in less watering and as the leaves decay, they put nutrients back into the soil.
If you have many mature trees on your property as I do, there is more than enough leaves to shred and spread as mulch each year. I am able to add the remainder of the leaves to my compost pile. To the fallen leaves, I add raw fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen along with grass clippings and other yard waste to make my compost pile. Adding finished compost to the garden improves the soil structure and feeds the soil with the bacteria and nutrients the plants thrive on.
3. Cover Crops
Cover crops may not be the go-to option for your main flower garden that is a feature of your property but it might be worth considering for a vegetable garden that requires rejuvenation.
This method involves planting a crop of clover, vetch or rye in a garden bed either before or after your main planting season. Then turning over the plant material into the soil.
Let’s say that you enjoy growing tomatoes, cucumbers and squash in your vegetable garden each year. Once you collect your last harvest of the season, plant clover in your garden.
Allow the clover to grow. The plant is at its most perfect stage for use by the soil when the flowers have set. This is the time to turn the plant and roots back into the soil. Or if that seems like too much work trim the plants down to the soil level. Throw the cut material into the compost bin and turn in the roots of the plants into your soil.
Leave the garden undisturbed for two (2) to four (4) weeks before planting seeds for your summer garden.
4. Organic Amendments
Adding organic amendments such as aged manure, composted poultry litter, or worm castings to your soil enriches it with nutrients and beneficial microorganisms. It is essential that the manure be aged otherwise it could burn the roots of the plants in the garden. The same is true for poultry manure (litter), if it is fresh it will scorch the plant roots.
Spraying compost tea over your garden can enhance the microbial activity and nutrient uptake of the soil. Compost tea is made by soaking mature compost in water and aerating it. Once brewed, this nutrient-rich liquid can be watered into the soil or used as a foliage spray for the plants.
Above are four (4) ways to rejuvenate your soil in the garden. By incorporating these practices into your gardening routine, you can rejuvenate and maintain the health and fertility of your soil for long-term productivity and sustainability.