Gardening with Laurie: Recreate nature's soil
By Laurie Garretson
Jan. 31, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 30, 2013 at 7:31 p.m.
Is it just me or does it look and feel like spring? I think most of us agree that it has felt like spring for a few weeks now. But let's not act too quickly on that. Winter could easily return before it really is spring.
I'm beginning to wonder if this recent warm spell is the result of our climate change. I realize that many people don't believe in global warming or climate change, but I tend to think there is something to it. Maybe we are experiencing our future weather patterns, warm, dry weather followed by hot, dry weather.
No matter what the weather brings, gardeners know that spring planting will be here very soon. This means it's time to get the soil ready. I realize I talk a lot about adding things to the soil, but I know how important it is. Whether planting a new garden or replenishing an existing one, your soil's health is what provides plants with the nutrients they need.
Many people think they can just dig a hole, stick a seed or plant in it, give it some water and forget it. Unfortunately, this practice usually doesn't have good results. Our soils have been depleted of all the ingredients nature originally put there to support life planted in it.
Take a walk in a forest and look down at the ground. Brush the surface materials away and run your fingers through the soil underneath. With this soil you should be able to see, feel and smell all the dynamic living things that nature has used to make it. Nature's soil recipe calls for minerals, air, water, plants and animals.
Gardeners should try to recreate nature's recipe in their gardens for the absolute best results. Start by adding compost into your native soil. A good quality compost will contain partially broken down organic matter, raw plant material, humus, enzymes, acid, nutrients, vitamins and lots of beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms are the life force of your soil, and they are very sensitive to synthetic man-made herbicides, insecticides and harsh fertilizers.
An organic fertilizer should be applied along with the compost. Natural fertilizers will stimulate the growth of microbiotic activity, as well as add nutrients to the soil.
Regular additions of compost and natural fertilizers to your soil will move you closer to a healthy, balanced soil with each application.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.