We should manage landscape beds, vegetable gardens and fruit plantings in much the same way that Mother Nature sustains the soil in a mature hardwood forest.
EARTH-KIND® Environmental Soil Management is a compost and mulch only approach. In most native soils the incorporation of compost and application of mulch to the soil surface will:
• Increase microbial and earthworm populations which will loosen and aerate the soil and improve soil and plant health;
• Promote the development of root systems which are larger and healthier that will explore a greater volume of soil for water and nutrients;
• Eliminate the need for commercial synthetic or organic fertilizers;
• Reduce salt burn on leaf margins in areas with salty irrigation water;
• Greatly reduce the need for supplemental irrigation;
• Promote the development of a more vigorous plant, thereby increasing the plant’s ability to withstand pest infestation and disease.
For sandy and loam soils, incorporate 3-6 inches of finished, plant based compost. For clay soils, incorporate 3 inches of expanded shale, then 3 inches of plant based compost to create raised beds 6 inches above the surrounding soil. Crown beds (make them higher in the center) to further improve drainage.
Top beds with a 3 inch layer of shredded organic mulch. This “living mulch” will act as a super slow release all natural fertilizer. Replenish the mulch in the beds twice a year (usually spring and fall) or as necessary to bring the mulch layer back up to a full three inches.
“If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: Worms, fungi, microorganisms of all
kinds…Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for long.”