Bald Mountain Press: The most important step you can take to prevent pests
and disease in your garden is to make your soil healthy. Feed your
soil organisms! Improve soil organically
with these organic soil building techniques, tools, and books.
Special note for soil around
rose bushes: bury banana peels! They add potassium, which is
badly needed by roses to bloom! I just layer them under the
Healthy Plants Grown in Healthy Soil Are More
Pest, Disease, and Drought Resistant
by Scott Supak
enjoy fresh grown organic vegetables almost every day. You let
your kids roll around in the organic lawn without worry. You
hardly ever have to weed anything, or spray anything, or pull up
diseased or fungus ridden plants. Your garden is an ecosystem in
balance, full of soil organisms like worms. Beneficial insects
and bees are doing all the dirty work, of which there just isn't
much, because your plants are so healthy! You spend more time
gardening books than you do gardening! You are a lazy, organic
gardener! We salute you! -- Mort Mather
A mulching mower is
the most important organic gardening tool you can use on your lawn.
It mulches the grass clippings so you can leave them right where
they're needed: on the lawn! Grass clippings are mostly nitrogen
and water, exactly what your lawn needs.
So why take
it away? When mulched, they disappear quickly (it is not an
unsightly mess as many think). When your soil gets healthy and full
of worms and other soil organisms that are hungry, the clippings
will be devoured and turned into fertilizer! Besides, bagging those
clippings is so much work!
organic gardening logic as far as it goes...
organic lawn is healthy, you can bag those grass clippings every
other time you mow (following the only cut 1/3 of the blade rule as
mentioned on our lawns page). They are great for compost piles,
where they should be mixed half and half with leaves or other dry
material (straw, composted or aged manures, shredded newspaper) and
The web is full of advice on
composting, and we have
about composting here. In the fall, put the bag on the
mulching mower and mow the leaves! This is great stuff for your
Then there's the lazy organic gardener's way...
The older I
get, the more I realize how right our resident organic gardening
expert Mort Mather is. I've taken
his advice and added my own experience to come up with a surefire
way to improve your soil and keep it healthy. My method is very
similar to Lasagna
Gardening by Patricia Lanza. Assume you're
starting with a piece of parched land that you want to turn into an
soil tested, just in case there's some gross imbalance that
needs to addressed.
every weed, rake, and throw it all away (it's full of weed
seeds and possibly diseases and fungi). Water. Leave.
in a week. Rake. Notice the millions of baby weeds you're
killing. You can compost them, or just leave them there. Water.
in a week. Rake. Notice the thousands of baby weeds you're
killing. Water. Leave.
in a week. Rake. Notice the hundreds of baby weeds you're
killing. Now the fun begins.
the top 6 inches to a foot of soil with a pitchfork. If
you're really lazy, don't.
anything suggested by the soil test. If your soil is
extremely sandy, add some clay, and vice versa. Sprinkle
some bone or blood meal. Dig in some seaweed sprinkled with
a little (very little) wood ash, lime, and borax.
all this with at least 6 inches of organic compost. If you
can't make it, buy it or have it trucked in. If you can't
do either, double the thickness of the layers mentioned
next and plant nothing this year, or green manures only.
It's very important that green manures be turned under
BEFORE they go to seed, or they become weeds. Once turned,
do the layers again before winter. In the spring, just
after planting, use a liquid compost or manure
the area with at least three inches of horse, steer, or
composted chicken manure (6 inches is better). On top of
that layer add at least three inches grass clippings. If
you want, you can mix mulched leaves with the clippings, or
you can just layer them next. Then, at least three inches
of straw (cheap, partially rotten bales may be had from the
same place as horse manure). Water. Leave.
in a day or two. Plant. Just dig holes right through the
layers. Mix compost with the soil at the bottom of the planting
hole. Water with manure
tea. Have a plan for a crop rotation, but try to stick with
legumes the first year. They affix nitrogen to the soil.
every third day for a good long time. Drip systems are best, as
tap water in most places is full of chlorine and other
chemicals that damage the leaves of your plants. Deep waterings
will make the roots grow deeper looking for water. This makes
the plants even healthier. The soil acts like a sponge and
holds the water for a longer time.
fed them. They will come. Millions of microscopic organisms
will help the worms and other creatures break down the organic
matter into nature's perfect fertilizer. Organic gardening
depends on these creatures to break down the organic matter
into useable plant nutrients. While chemical fertilizers
provide only the big three (NKP, nitrogen, potassium,
phosphorous), these organisms produce castings that provide a
whole host of nutrients plants need, like vitamins, minerals,
more straw, bark, or even wood chips. There is some debate
about wood chips using nitrogen as they decompose, so add a
layer of grass clippings under them, just to be safe. Mulch
extra thick around the bases of your plants, but be careful not
to bury the stalks. Mulch helps hold the water in. If you live
in a very wet area, with poor drainage, and you have a slug or
snail problem, try mulching with those spiky balls from sweet
remove any plants with diseases or pests and destroy (do not
compost) them. Do the whole layering process again to cover
your garden in a nice, warm, winter blanket. Weeds shouldn't be
a problem now except for blow-ins, which can be removed by
spring, plant and mulch again. In the fall, layer again. If you
need the exercise, loosen it all up with a pitchfork, but you
don't have to.
this process every year, and have your soil retested in three
years or so. You now have an organic garden!