How To Make Good Soil Out Of Infertile Soil
Even poor soil can be conditioned to allow you to grow any types of plants you choose. Many people are finding out that the best way to healthy soil is to recycle their kitchen and yard waste into healthy soil additives through a compost heap. For organic gardening, nothing can replace the need for composting, which is technically nothing more than recycling plant waste and even such unlikely waste products as grass clippings.
What is Compost?
Compost soil is sometimes called humus. It is created by mixing plant and vegetable matter with other plant matter that is already decomposing. The mixture infuses air into the mixture, allowing the microorganisms that cause decomposition to function faster and more efficiently. As the material breaks down, it forms an extremely rich soil that is high in plant nutrients and has a pH of around 6.5, perfect for most common plants.
Step 1: Sifting the Compost
Before you can use the compost, it needs to be sifted to remove material that is not yet ready for use, any small twigs and other bits. Place the wire mesh screen over the wheelbarrow and add 1 shovel of compost at a time, shaking the material until the small pieces have all fallen through the mesh. Of the remaining material, remove the bits that are not suitable for decomposition and place the rest out of the way until the project is complete. Repeat the sifting process until the wheel barrow is full. When you are finished, replace the unused material and mix the compost.
Step 2: Broadcasting the Compost
Broadcast the compost over your garden area. To do this, fill the shovel and slowly sling the material out, covering a wide angle with a light coating of material. By broadcasting the compost, you ensure that it is well broken up and covers a uniform area. Another method of broadcasting is to use a garden spreader, just like you would use for chemical fertilizers.
Step 3: Mixing the Soil
Using a potato rake or pitchfork, mix the soil where compost has been spread. If you are treating clay, it may be best to mix the soil before adding compost and then mix it again afterward to get proper mixing. After treating clay-based soils a few times, they will begin to transform into fertile soil and the clay will not clump together the way it does before treatment.
Step 4: Preventing Soil Erosion and Topsoil Loss
One of the biggest dangers to soil fertility is the erosion of the soil by wind and rain. Soil erosion results in fertile topsoil being washed away, or swept away by the wind, and the soil that is left behind is hard and infertile. To prevent the loss of topsoil and to keep your garden soil healthy, grow plants on the soil, even if it is only grass. Plant matter holds moisture next to the soil and prevents erosion. Adding plant matter to the soil help fertilize it in the process.