Add tilth to the soil

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Local Dirt -

Ded­i­cated gar­den­ers will have an am­ple sup­ply of com­post to add to the soil be­fore do­ing their an­nual plant­ing, but if you are not that com­mit­ted yet want to avoid that dead pan mud full of cracks in mid-sum­mer, you can amend gar­den soil with or­gan­ics, peat moss or with com­mer­cial com­post.

Any or­ganic ma­te­rial will break down over time, keep­ing earth­worms in­ter­ested and giv­ing bac­te­ria some­thing to chomp on. Leaf mold is an easy an­swer and far­sighted gar­den­ers will have chopped up fall leaves with the lawn­mower, and put the leaves in plas­tic garbage bags punched with a few holes to let in mois­ture and air. Over the win­ter, the leaves will break down and pro­vide a lovely and nu­tri­tional or­ganic fix to feed the flower beds and veg­gie gar­den in spring­time.

Wood chips or even shred­ded news­pa­per will also do the trick – the smaller the pieces of any of these amend­ments, the faster they will break down and add tilth to the soil.

What is tilth? It’s struc­ture con­sist­ing of air and wa­ter. The or­gan­ics help re­tain mois­ture and add struc­ture to let life giv­ing oxy­gen into the soil. For very dry ar­eas, you might want to ex­change peat moss for coir, ground up co­conut husk, which you buy in bricks, re­con­sti­tute in wa­ter and add to the top six inches of your gar­den in a ra­tio of about one-part coir to seven parts soil. Coir breaks down more slowly than peat and holds three times as much wa­ter (eight times its own weight in wa­ter). It is eas­ier to re­hy­drate than peat if it does dry out.

Whether you make your own com­post or buy or­ganic ma­te­rial from a gar­den shop, adding tithe to the soil keeps it healthy.

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