Save Our Soil At Home
Erosion, flooding, climate change and loss of soil fertility means that our soil needs saving. But we can all do our part.
Whether you have an allotment, a field or a small garden, by caring for our little patch of soil we can contribute to saving the soil. By growing some simple plants not only can you improve soil quality but also grow some delicious plants and add a little life and beauty to your garden.
I caught up with the Soil Association’s Head of Horticulture, Ben Raskin to get his expert advice on which soil saving plants that can be grown at home.
1. Don't be too tidy
Ben recommends that you don't tidy up too often: "don't cut back or sweep up too often." Leaves and plants add to soil organic matter and improve the health of the soil. Soil requires nutrients from organic matter, Ben says that one reason that trees in cities are often not that healthy is because we sweep up the leaves.
Ben also said that not only should we leave leaves to mould in the autumn but we should also not cut back the trees. By keeping stems and folliage it provides a habitat for creatures that can break down and add organic matter to the soil.
This won't just save your soil, it will also save you a job, so it's a win-win!
By rotating your plants you will improve your soil quality and fertility. Using a 3 year, or more crop rotation you can promote healthy soil in your garden, cut down on plant disease and even reduce weeds.
By maintaining the balance of organic matter, balance of nutrients and micoorganisms for healthy soil. Certain microorganisms thrive around certain plants. Healthy soil has a balance of micro-creatures.
"The more organic matter in your soil the better," says Ben. You can improve the amount of organic matter by using compost. More organic matter improves soil structure including improving drainage and erosion control as well as suppressing plant disease and pests.
Ben says make sure that you use composted woodchip.
4. Disturb Soil As little as possible
Ben says that one of the best things you can do for your soil is to disturb it as little as possible. Don't walk on the soil if it is wet and don't dig the soil unless you have to.
By disturbing the soil as little as possible, you can reduce runoff, keep nutrients and you can ensure that carbon and nitrogen remain sequestered rather than being released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas from being disturbed.
He laughs and says that you could call this blog the "lazy persons guide to saving your soil at home". Despite the ease of this tip, it's true!
5. Grow Soil Saving Plants
When it comes to improving soil at home, not all plants are equal. Check out Ben's suggestions of soil saving plants that you can grow at home.