When we think of soil, what might come to mind is dirt, ground up rocks and rotten leaves, but the ground beneath our feet is also teeming with life. These critters are essential to the organic gardener (and life as we know it) because they break down dead plants, animals and minerals into particles that plants feed on. Follow these tips to take care of the microorganisms in your soil and they will take care of the plants in your garden!
First, let’s talk about fertilizers; synthetic vs. organic.
Synthetic: These fertilizers have already undergone processes that convert raw materials into plant-accessible nutrients. The problem is that this food only benefits the plant – essentially starving the beneficial organisms in the soil. In addition, synthetic fertilizers increase the acidity of the soil and leave deposits of salts behind. The repeated use of synthetic fertilizers eventually creates “dead” soils and plants that are entirely dependent on man-made fertilizers.
Organic: Adding organic fertilizers, compost, and green manures to your garden provides food for a great variety of soil organisms. The waste that they produce becomes food for your plants. Adding organic matter to your garden soil also improves aeration, creating the light, fluffy beds that are ideal for root penetration and water drainage.