New Year’s Gardening Resolution 1: Focus on soil, not plants.
Everything that gardening experts, books, and if you’re lucky enough to have one, a gardening parent or grandparent, have told you that you need to do for plants, you actually need to do for soil.
Are you worried about watering your plants? Shift your worry to being sure that helpful soil bacteria, fungi, and other microbes are watered appropriately, even in areas where nothing is planted.
Do you feel you need a plan for feeding and fertilizing your plants? What you actually need is a plan for year-round feeding of the life in your soil, especially at times when you aren’t actively planting, there are no living roots in your soil, or your garden is dormant. In mild-winter California areas, soil life eats organic matter year-round.
Concerned about protecting your plants from insects, wind or harsh weather, or diseases? Protect the life in your soil first.
Soil that is vibrantly alive with a complex soil ecosystem provides ideal conditions to support healthy plants in a way that dirt, or the mostly-dead potting soil you buy in a bag at the nursery, never will. For a soil ecosystem to be healthy, it must be well-fed by plant-root exudates, which are sugars and other substances released by plant roots. Soil is also fed by dead cells from plant roots and root hairs; organic matter such as mulch at the soil surface; and the wastes and decaying bodies of both microorganisms (such as bacteria) and macroorganims (such as insects and worms).
When we shift focus to soil, our plants take care of themselves, or more accurately, soil life takes far better care of them than we ever could.
GardenZeus has customized gardening instructions by plant and zip code. To get started, click here.
Tips for Testing Soil pH at Home with A Soil pH Meter