Here are five essential things you can do to improve the health and fertility off the soil in your organic veggie garden beds.
"Feed the soil, and you'll feed the plants".
- Compost-Add compost, I usually use a 10lt bucket per mtr/sq. It doesn't matter where it comes from or how you make it or even buy it. I've never seen a plant die from too much compost. And don't stress if it's got weeds in it because when you pull them out they can just go straight back into your next lot of compost of course.
- Manure-Animal manure, dig it in-aged if you've got it, but if it's fresh spread it out over the top of your garden and let it dry out then dig it into the soil. You'll need to do this at least two weeks before you do any of the other work.
Green manure-Green manure mixes can be purchased from most mail order companies like Green Harvest and Diggers. This is a longer term prospect for improving your soil and would be considered if your beds have been worked pretty hard over the last year or two and need rejuvenating. If you would like to know more about how to Green manure, or what is Green manure, than let me know and I'll put up a post on Green manuring.
- Blood and bone-My personal favorite, I usually use it as a side dressing fertilizer at about the half growth stage of a plants life. I find it helps keep the plants vigor up and growth strong through to harvest time. Amounts vary from variety to variety, but generally I find a good hand full per plant spread around the root zone of the plant sufficient.
- Mulch-is best added after you have watered and your soil is moist. You don't have to have plants in the ground to mulch, if you have done any of the above than they will benefit from having a good covering of mulch over the bed. Come planting time just pull back the mulch and stick your plant in. There is all different types of mulch out there in veggie land and you usually use what you can get your hands on. Here I use lucerne that I put through my chipper shredder and I never put it on more than 25mm(1 inch)thick.
- Water-None of the above will work unless your soil is moist. Too wet or dry and the whole process of soil improvement slows down, of course if you get lots of rain there is not much you can do except raise your beds for improved drainage. But in dry times if you can irrigate your beds than the soil improving can continue unabated.