Today we’re going to cover five organisms that can help replenish your soil after planting, decontaminate your soil, and aerate it to improve your plant’s overall health and growth. Each of these organisms will serve different purposes in your garden, but all are equally important to any gardener’s efforts. As always, be sure to check with the experts at your local nursery before you start planting if you have any questions about these or any other natural methods for helping your garden grow. Here’s what we’ll cover today…
Legumes are members of the bean family. They typically have a deep tap root that helps to aerate the soil. Legumes are also nitrogen fixers which means they take gaseous nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into nitrates that can be used by plants. When you plant legumes in your garden, you’ll find that they help replenish nutrients like phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron back into the soil while decontaminating it.
2 & 3) Mycorrhizal fungi and earthworms
Mycorrhizal fungi are a symbiotic partnership with the roots of plants. These fungi help to break down organic matter in the soil. They also produce substances that protect plants from root rot. Some mycorrhizal fungi may also be able to take nitrogen from the air and fix it into a plant-available form. If you have sandy or poor-quality soil, you can make up for this by adding topsoil or compost. Worms: earthworms are hermaphroditic organisms that can digest food at a high rate and return nutrients back to the ground. Earthworms create tunnels that aerate the soil and improve water infiltration by providing channels for rainwater.
4) Green Manures
Green manures are plants that are grown to be tilled back into the soil to help replenish the soil with nutrients. These plants can also help decontaminate the soil of bacteria and pesticide residues. Lastly, these plants will aerate the soil by creating channels for air to flow through. The most familiar green manure is oats which are often used as a cover crop because it grows quickly and provides a good amount of nitrogen in their leaves. Other examples of green manures include rye, turnips, vetch, clover, fava beans, cowpeas, alfalfa, and legumes like peas or beans.
5) Cover Crops
Cover crops are plants that are used to help replenish soil nutrients and provide a protective covering over the ground. They also have the added benefit of decontaminating the soil from any unwanted organisms. Cover crops can be planted at any time of year but work best in spring before or after a period of rainfall. The types of cover crops you choose will depend on what you want them to accomplish for your garden. For example, rye is excellent for preventing weed growth by blocking out sunlight with its long taproot system; buckwheat is a good choice if you want the cover crop to act as a living mulch because it grows quickly and creates a thick mat; clover has an interesting symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that helps fertilize the soil while it grows.–MM
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