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Gardener Gains: Improve Your Gardens Soil

By February 21, 2019August 22nd, 2019No Comments

Several years ago, my sweet husband built me four large raised garden beds in the small backyard of our home.  It was a wonderful project and the beds were an artistic addition to a backyard that no longer had little ones running around, wrestling or playing.  As empty-nesters, we decided it would be fun to learn to grow our own produce.

So the adventure began.

There is something extraordinary about putting seeds in dirt and watching these food producing machines pop up out of the abyss like magic!

I knew very little back then about gardening, and I am still learning as I go and find that every season of planting, I discover amazing anticipation for the part I play in this miraculous creation and it brings a joy that is impossible to describe until you experience it for yourself.

Plant the seeds. Watch them grow:  

It sounds like a nursery rhyme, which is totally appropriate considering the innocent wonder when the first tomato or cucumber starts to pop up and a giggle bubbles up from somewhere inside me. It’s simply wonderful!

As magical as the process has been, there is definitely a learning curve for the newbie gardener. I haven’t put pressure on myself to learn it all at once or stress if “I am doing this right”.

The best learning has been from my own mistakes and that process has been a significant part of the joy I derive from gardening because as I figure things out for myself, I feel totally invested in the process and it is empowering.

One of the newer lessons learned over the last season has been about improving my garden’s soil.

Over the seasons, I have found that attention to good soil conditions has not only improved the crop I get to harvest but has also naturally kept the pests away that have often zapped joy right out of my garden.

There is much to be found online on soil amendments and tips and tricks to improving your garden’s soil.  I have read numerous articles on the subject and frankly just find most overwhelming. They sound like work, and my garden is meant to be a stress-free zone.

So I thought I would share some of the simple things I have done that have taken very little effort and helped my garden enormously:

 

Eggs shells:

This is one of the simplest additions I have ever made.  We have chickens, which give us eggs… but even if you don’t, most of you eat eggs. So, toss the shells in an unused produce bag, crush them with a rolling pin and sprinkle over your soil. This helps add nutrients back into the soil. Yay… love that!
It also helps repel ear-wigs and sow bugs and that was my real motivator!  Earwigs were making their homes everywhere prior to my doing this and last season, I didn’t see a single one!

Used Coffee grounds:

 There is a lot written on this additive as an amendment and some controversy as to whether it really is effective at adding nitrogen back into the soil. For my garden, it improved the soil structure (made it lighter and airier) and I it helped repel pests.
Myth or not, my experience is improved soil and fewer pests and it is free, organic and easy– so why not?

Manure:

On our little gentleman’s farm this is free and abundant.  We collect the horse manure, let it dry and then put it through a chipper and add it to our plantings all over the property.

This has been an essential additive that has significantly improved soil quality and structure. My garden beds are light and spongy, and the plants are happy.

Organic Mulch:

We order mulch a couple times a year and I add shovels to the garden beds to allow natural composting, added nutrients and maintained soil moisture. You can make your own mulch too by running the mower over a pile of raked leaves and adding it to your soil.

By spring- it will be working like magic!

I am no expert, and this article is not intended to be your single resource on the subject of soil improvement– especially if you are a serious farmer. However, I hope to have inspired adventure in the reader who wants a gardening journey of their own. Happy growing!

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