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How to get healthy soil

By Katja Phegan

Here are 5 ways to keep your soil healthy and productive and your plants thriving.

RYOBI TEAM Mon, 10/02/2023 - 15:07

5 ways to get healthy soil for healthy food

If you want to grow healthy food, the best place to start with is your soil – soil holds the key to nutritious produce and a thriving garden. Full of organic matter and rich in biodiversity, healthy soil that is being nurtured and protected supports life above and below ground and makes plants more resilient to pest attacks. 

Brown compost material

Get composting

Making compost is one of the small actions with a big impact! Composting your household’s food scraps and garden waste keeps organic waste out of landfill and recycles nutrients back into your garden. Nothing builds healthier soil than adding some quality, homemade compost. There are many options for compost bins to suit every space or you can go DIY and build your own system!

Applying mulch to garden beds

Apply mulch

Mulch adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down while helping to retain moisture, keeping soil temperatures stable and supressing weeds. Good options for mulch in the veggie patch include organic sugarcane mulch, straw, lucerne hay, comfrey leaves, lawn clippings (short and green, no seeds), wood chips and even seaweed (check your local council restrictions before collecting any from the beach). Every time soil is showing through or weeds are coming up in the mulch, it is time to reapply more.

A sprouting green vegetable

Plant some green manure

A cost-effective way to replenish and nourish the soil is to plant a crop of green manure. Simply sow seeds such as mustard greens, lupins, peas or clover (or a mix) and after a few weeks cut it all back and drop it in place and plant right away. The next crop will thank you for it!

A worm tower with food scraps in the garden bed

Install a worm tower

You can also add fertility to your soil by installing a worm tower in your veggie patch, making compost in situ. You can make one easily by drilling holes into a 20L plastic bucket with a lid and bury it with only the rim and lid of the bucket above ground. Add some compost worms and feed them your food scraps. The worms will turn the scraps into beautiful rich castings in no time.

Green plant with ladybug on end

Go chemical free

If you want a garden that is healthy for you and your plants, and soil that is full of life, take a step back and let Mother Nature do her work. Lay off harmful chemicals, including herbicides, pesticides and fungicides as well as synthetic fertilisers. Instead, opt for natural inputs and a balanced ecosystem. Don’t reach for the spray the moment you see aphids. Just wait for the ladybugs to come and take care of them for you. By providing a welcoming environment for beneficial bugs and nurturing your soil, you will strengthen your garden’s defences for future attacks.

Healthy soil builds over time, the more you nurture it, the more you will be rewarded!