Many people are interested in learning about soil improvement as part of global food source sustainability and "green living." Organic farming practices are gaining popularity worldwide. To begin changing to organic practices at home, start with a basic knowledge of soil and how to use it in your garden. Using organic soil to grow vegetables increases their nutritional value and therefore the health of your family.
Science Supports Organic Agriculture
Science correspondent Ian Sample reported in a 2007 edition of The Guardian on a Newcastle University, England, study which said that organic vegetables have 40 percent more antioxidants than non-organic produce. Antioxidants contribute to healthy cell growth. Organic soil also improves a plant's ability to resist disease and pests, according to the Western Sunset Gardening Guide. Organic amendments to your soil improve aeration and drainage, allowing better root growth. The nutrients released into soil multiply over time, continuing to make soil improvements. Using organic soil is also a way to decontaminate soil from pesticide use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The simplest organic additions to soil are peat moss, ground bark, leaf mold, sawdust, wood shavings, manure and composted plant material. These soil amendments can all be bought at your local garden center and added individually. Another common additive is composted soil. Composted plant material turns into organic soil and is called compost. Making composted soil yourself is the most economical method of improving your soil. Compost is made from garden plant waste, grass clippings, manure and kitchen vegetable waste.
Finished compost is often called "black gold" because it's so good for the garden. The simplest and least expensive way of creating organic soil is to make your own. Make a pile in the corner of the yard for leaves, grass clippings and kitchen vegetable waste. Cover each addition with a layer of leaves for odor control. Sprinkle with water once a week. The decay process takes from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the method. Compost bins work in the same way but the decaying materials are contained in black plastic and break down faster. Compost bins are available by mail-order and garden centers. Check with your local city waste management department for composting workshops and inexpensive bins.