Four Simple Ways To Improve Your Garden's Soil Quality For Less Than $25 Most nurseries and home improvement centers offer bags of mulch and other soil nutrients to increase your soil's quality and help you grow more healthy plants. However, you only need to spend money on these if you are looking to save time. There are several ways you can enhance the quality of your soil and grow a beautiful garden without needing to spend large amounts of money. Read on for some different methods you can easily do on your own.
1. Make a compost for your soil with your yard clippings and kitchen leftovers. Do you drink coffee every day? Coffee grounds are an excellent way to increase the acidity of your soil. Eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruit? The peels, rinds and other left-overs make a great compost to mix in to the soil. The next time you trim your shrubs, trees and flowers, chop all of the clippings into small chunks and spread them over your soil beds as if they were wood chips, so they can add extra nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
2. Practice "lasagne" gardening. This clever idea is great to start while you are concurrently decluttering your home. Lasagne gardening involves putting down different materials, layer by layer, soaking them with water and letting them compost over time. This method is easy, a great way to recycle, and it works very well. Grab anything you have -- old leaves, thick cardboard, layers of newspaper, grass clippings or straw. Materials decompose best when you alternate layers of living, green material (nitrogen) with layers of brown, dry material (carbon) to balance the levels of moisture and aeration. Layer in old school papers, manure, seaweed, weeds, old wool or cotton clothing, mushy kitchen leftovers....just keep piling on anything that is biodegradable. The pile starts out high, and the earthworms and microbes help it shrink down over time. Plant seedlings on the top by digging small holes and adding some dirt. By the time the roots grow, the plants will be receiving much nourishment from the decomposing layers of "stuff."
3. When your soil is very poor, use straw bale gardening. The whole tied-up straw bale is the garden, so you do not have to worry about your soil at all. Place these alongside paths, on a balcony or anywhere else that strikes your fancy. Some bales made with oats, rye or barley remain as straw, while hay has seeds and grows grass. You may desire this look, but will probably want to keep it trimmed. They only cost a few dollars each. Water them thoroughly once you get them home, and let them sit for two to three weeks in the sun. Layer the top with a compost fertilizer, such as coffee grounds, chicken manure or bone meal before planting. Each bale can handle about three zucchini or squash plants, 12 to 15 pea or bean plants or anything else you can dream up. Keep the hay wellwatered.
4. Plant "cover crop" plants for the season to cover and protect your bare soil from winter freezes, weed growth, erosion and nutrient leaching. Once the plants die out, incorporate them into the soil and let them compost for a bit before you add your new plants. Some cover crops are also used to attract insects that are good for your garden, and plants such as clover or field peas can add beneficial nitrogen to the soil for your next round of plants.
The bulk of the soil improvements for gardens are typically done before the first seed is ever planted. The methods above require very little money, allowing you to spend a little extra on additional plants or seeds to successfully grow and enjoy your own fantastic garden. For more information click here
green material (nitrogen) with layers of brown, dry material (carbon) to balance the levels of moisture