Organic Gardening — It’s all in the dirt

I have always wondered how my lifestyle could be so eco-friendly but my thumb be as green as downtown LA. I killed everything from houseplants to container tomatoes to rows and rows of the loveliest greens. It was heartbreaking. 

I have since been let in on a little secret and now have learned that “it’s all in the dirt”. Someone put it to me as being very similar to that which is in our body (our fuel) revealing what is on the outside of our body and how it functions and grows. Now that was speaking my language.

It makes all the sense in the world, so now let’s apply it to Georgia soil. Here, our soil can be sandy or clay-based which along with other factors, will affect the pH — whether it‘s too acidic or alkaline. There are home tests and also professionals that can determine your soil’s pH levels. These tests will also tell you how much calcium, organic matter, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium , sulfur and trace minerals it contains.

Sandy soil will need your help so that it can be improved enough to retain water as where clay soil needs to be able to release water more efficiently.

Just like our bodies, soil needs the right pH balance or it will affect the availability of nutrients to the growing plants. Typically the best range is 6 to 7.5 however there are some acid loving plants like blueberries and azaleas.

Once your soil’s pH is balanced in perfect harmony, you’ll have some digging and mixing and turning over to do. Make sure you are digging as low as your plant roots are expected to reach so they’ll absorb all the goodness of your efforts.

As you turn over the earth, add in the correct ratio of humus (decomposed animal and plant matter) depending on whether your soil is sandy or clay-based.

Composting is a great way to use your own resources to enrich the integrity of the soil. The secret to good composting is thoughtful layers of organic materials, animal manures, and plain topsoil that has not been treated with pesticides. This will naturally attract our helpful worm friends that can do more for your garden than any store bought product ever could.

Healthy soil is an on going labor of love but a task well worth the energy you’ll extend. It’s hard to match the accomplished feeling of loading up your plate with nutrient rich, home grown veggies. So roll your sleeves up and get ready to get down and dirty!

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