Dress Your Soil for Summer (Naked Isn’t Good)

Great garden soil isn't perfectly uniform. Little bits of organic material improve tilth and help reduce soil compaction.

Great garden soil isn’t perfectly uniform. Bits of organic material improve tilth and reduce soil’s tendency to compact.

By the time summer arrives, your plants are already settled in the ground, happily growing. So gardeners often think “That’s it. I’ll have to wait until next spring to help beef up my crummy soil.” Sigh.

Not true. Even in midsummer you can dress your soil for success.

You can still add soil amendments. Perhaps you’ve heard the terms “top dressing” and “side dressing”? Top dressing is simply adding amendments to the top of the soil and letting repeated waterings and rain encourage them to gradually perk down in. With side dressing, amendments are sprinkled on the soil six to eight inches from the target plants and gently scratched in, with care taken to avoid disturbing the roots.

5 Tips for Improving Your Soil This Summer:

  1. Know what you’re dealing with first. Get a soil test kit and spend 30 minutes understanding what’s really happening. Determine what’s needed and what’s not.
  2. Add an inch layer of compost to your soil to increase the levels of organic matter, to retain moisture and to help suppress weeds. Avoid having the compost right up against plant stems. Homemade compost is the best because you know what went into it. There are very few rules around what can go into bags of commercial compost, so buyer beware.
  3. Mix Gro-Bric with all your soil amendments – compost, mulch, minerals, etc. – to improve oxygen and water holding capacity. Most home landscape and garden soil is compacted to some degree, often very compacted. Compaction robs roots of needed oxygen and moisture, and makes physical development harder. Gro-Brics are made from coconut husk fiber, an excellent organic, renewable material that lighten soil to stimulate root growth and increase beneficial microorganism activity. And unlike peat, Gro-Brics are close to pH neutral, rather than very acidic.
  4. Mulch around your vegetable plants with dried lawn clippings. Later, turn these into the soil when you wrap up the gardening season. Add natural bark mulch around your perennial beds to protect the soil from drying and top-soil-stealing winds. Or use Coconut Husk Mulch for either application.
  5. Train yourself to walk around the garden rather than through it. Need to step in to weed or reach the faucet? Add a few attractive stepping stones and use them. Avoiding soil compaction is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your garden soil. And it’s free!
Garden with stepping stones illustrates one successful way to avoid soil compaction.

Add stepping stones to your garden to encourage thoughtful walking, which will reduce soil compaction.

 

10/22/2013    Soil & Compost: It All Starts Here, Starting Out, Uncategorized