Trials have consistently shown that a healthy soil, rich in humus and organic matter will encourage stronger plants and greater biodiversity within gardens.
One teaspoonful of your garden soil will contain literally millions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa etc all of which need organic matter which they break down into humus and nutrients for your plants.
In the natural world, there is a constant cycle of plant debris returning to the soil to be converted back into humus. Just look in any woodland or area of natural growth and you’ll see nature following its traditional pattern.
In domestic gardens, we break this cycle in the interests of appearance and regulation. This is why it is so important that you put organic matter back into the soil. It’s also much better to apply composted material.
You can fork in organic matter but apart from being hard work this can disturb delicate balances within the soil, only really recommended if your soil is compacted or truly bereft of organic matter.
Ultimately the best method of soil improvement available to domestic gardeners is to mulch all bare soil (i.e. spread material over the surface) to a depth of at least two inches ( 5cm ) with any available composted organic matter.
The benefits are clear and well established –
- maintains soil moisture levels
- provides frost protection for sensitive roots and micro-organisms
- ensures a continuous supply of material for the bacteria and micro-organisms to break down and provide plant nutrients and humus
- maintains stable soil temperatures
- prevents soil splash during heavy rain or watering
- encourages broader ecosystem within your garden
- increases worm population
- suppresses weeds
- improves appearance of beds and borders
- plants are stronger and healthier