Maintaining healthy soil is not as difficult as many people might suppose. If the soil is completely infertile, or is composed primarily of clay or sand, it may take a little work but the same tips for healthy soil can be applied across the board. The basics are to protect the life above and below the soil, make sure there is plenty of food and water and give the soil plenty of air.
Fact 1: Herbicides and Pesticides
Avoid the use of chemicals that kill insects or weeds. Even herbicides that are made to affect specific plants have a danger of being transmitted into the topsoil and groundwater, contaminating plants that were not originally intended. Pesticides kill pollinating insects indiscriminately. Over time, both herbicides and pesticides build up in the soil and are carried into groundwater supplies where they may pose threats for people as well as plants.
Fact 2: Bacteria and Fungi
The processes that keep soil healthy are due to soil fungi and various types of bacteria. In a way, the best soil for living things is the soil which contains the healthiest living things. Soil which is rich in earthworms is almost always a great type of soil for planting, for example. And earthworms, in turn, are feeding on smaller life-forms such as the microscopic bacteria and fungus that are responsible for a majority of plant matter decomposition.
Fact 3: Plant Nutrition
The top soil is the top 2 to 8 inches of soil, and it contains more than 90 percent of the nutritional value of the soil. This may sound unusual at first, but keep in mind that the best fertilizer for soil is decomposing plant matter, and it is easy to see how the best soil would be on top, breaking down and slowly working deeper into the soil. Any time you need to dig a hole, save the top soil for later use.
Fact 4: Organic is Naturally Better
People are really only now beginning to understand the importance of using organic material for growing things. Today, it is known that plants and vegetables which are grown organically are stronger, larger, and some would even say tastier than the same thing grown using other methods. Today, a compost heap is recognized as one of the best fertilizer factories you can get, and they can be made at home without special tool or materials.
Fact 5: Plant Recycling
Composting works by taking a supply of plant refuse, including household waste such as vegetable cores and skins, or yard waste such as grass cuttings, and mixing it periodically over a period of time. This allows the fresh material to mix with air and existing composting, promoting a quick, complete conversion from ordinary garbage to some of the best plant food available.
Fact 6: Soil Needs Room to Breathe
In order for soil to remain healthy, it has to be aerated from time to time. This could be done using a pitchfork or a tiller, or simply by digging around. The key is to break up hard soil and mix it with lighter, loamy soil. This allows oxygen to reach the life below ground, and promotes the growth of roots on plants.