Let me paint a picture for you. In nature– the forest there are many trees and leaves. These trees grow over time and then a lot of the old leaves die and fall to the forest floor where they eventually mix with the soil and various microorganisms break down these leaves into the soil. This break down along with animal waste produces the best rich soil available .
My friends this is Organic soil at its finest. We Organic gardeners attempt to duplicate nature by trying to create the best soil we can.
How do we do this ?, you may ask. Our home gardens may need amendments such as organic garden soil and fertilizers. These additions would be things like compost, and all purpose fertilizer which contains organic ingredients like blood meal, fish bone meal, green sand, soft rock phosphate and humic acid.
The nutrients in the soil may deplete over time that is why we need to check the condition of our soil before attempting to grow our favorite fruits and vegetables. At the heart of all organic growing is fertilizing organically. Healthy soil produces plants which grow better, taste better, and store longer.
One of the first things to do is to check the pH of your soil. The pH refers to how acid or alkaline your soil may be. a pH over 7 indicates an alkaline condition which you will find in low rain fall areas. A pH under 7 indicates a acid condition this is seen in high rain fall areas such as Northern California. There are ph meters available that come with a manual for over 400 plants indicating the correct pH for your particular plants.
All Plants need 3 essential ingredients Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) along with trace minerals which supplements missing calcium and other minerals. Nitrogen is most important in the early stages for general growth when leaves are forming. Phosphorus is needed for flowering and fruiting. The final ingredient needed is Potassium which establishes vigor and resistance through sugar formation. This is the whole reasoning behind fertilization. You are replenishing or adding nutrients that your plants need for growth and production.
Composting is one of the best methods to add Organic material back into your garden. This is the process of using brown and green materials found in your garden to produce rich black garden soil. To Start a ( Hot ) Compost pile all you have to do is gather brown dead leaves from your garden. These brown leaves supply the carbon necessary. The other item needed is Nitrogen which is green material in the form of grass clippings or old food scraps from cooking.
The goal is to layer your Compost pile with brown and green material ie a layer of leaves and then apply a new layer of grass clippings and food scraps. These layers along with moisture ( apply water between layers) will cause a break down of microorganisms and produce rich fertile soil. The pile must be rotated every 3 days to help break down process. You can use a compost thermometer to measure the temperature of the pile which should be between 120 to 150 degrees.