Without soil is there life?

Herbivorous animals cannot survive without the plants grown in soil. Humans may be able to manage in a soil-less environment by growing plants in hydroponic systems, but would we want to? We would need to be vegan as there wouldn’t be animal products to consume and I know the carnivores I share my life with wouldn’t be happy with that.

As I write this post, I have dirt under my nails from a hearty weeding session in my vegetable garden. My garden provides us with most of our vegetables and me with sunshine and hard work as well as time spent with my dogs who enjoy the garden as much as I do.

When I started my rather large veggie garden the soil was clay that had been part of an overgrazed paddock for many years. We had pigs in the paddock for a couple of months before I converted it to garden so there was some latent fertility in the soil. The paddock was growing mainly Patterson’s Curse and Cape weed. As I already had a number of raised beds in what I call my kitchen garden I was not in a mad rush to grow immediately and had the luxury of time to spend on preparation, in particular soil preparation. My method was slow but effective.

After deciding where the beds would be, I slashed the area and then covered it with newspaper and cardboard before layering weeds (I have big industrial strength weeds here not delicate little ones) a variety of animal manures and straw. 6 months later and I was able to plant my first vegetables in what was now good soil. The work didn’t stop there however, as although the soil was great each crop grown in the beds depleted the nutrients.

If I hadn’t had time and resources on my side, I could have achieved the same result by buying premium quality organic compost from the likes of Jindalee Ag, an industry leader in the supply of one of the best premium quality composts on the market. www.jindaleeag.com.ay/wheretobuy/

Several years ago, I did a Permaculture course and studied a Diploma of Organic Farming. With the skills and knowledge I gained, I am now able to make a number of brews for my garden (who knows, maybe in a previous life I was a witch!) including Nettle, Comfrey, Manure and Carp tea. Making your own Carp brew is probably not to be recommended as that stuff was pretty odoriferous during the brewing phase. I also have access to animal manures and straw so supplementing my soil with goodies is not that difficult.

If, however I lived in a more urban area or I didn’t have easy access to resources I would still need to feed my soil. Adding compost regularly, resting your beds under mulch and crop rotation are all recommended.

One of the biggest mistake gardeners make is expecting their soil to grow fabulous vegetables or flowers continuously without amending the soil in any way. Even if you buy in good soil to begin with it needs to be fed regularly to maintain optimum growing conditions. Adding a good quality compost every 6 months is essential. Many issues that occur with plants can be prevented through good soil health. Healthy soil grows healthy plants!

Visit our UPCYCLE HUB at www.jindaleeag.com.au/upcyclehub for heaps of ideas on using compost, garden brews and more.