Ruud Kleinpaste: Improving your soil

Author
Ruud Kleinpaste,
Publish Date
Sat, 17 Jul 2021, 11:43AM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Ruud Kleinpaste: Improving your soil

Author
Ruud Kleinpaste,
Publish Date
Sat, 17 Jul 2021, 11:43AM

Improving Your soil  
 
Mid-winter isn’t a great time to start digging in your sodden soil. It can be quite fragile, yet it provides us with organic materials that can: 
 
1) Sequester carbon 
2) Store moisture   
3) Retain fertility   
4) Grow trees that provide us with oxygen   
5) Be a home to an amazing biodiversity   
6) Feed us (vegie gardens!!)   
 
Mulching and adding is the thing to do in winter. 
 
Pea straw is a fab cover that suppresses weeds and keeps things “warm” in winter. It slowly breaks down it becomes humus and dark organic matter which is perfect! Pea straw should ideally be 20 cm thick.  
 
Chipped branches and sawdust-like material do that too, but they often “steal” some Nitrogen from the soil to help it break down. A handful of Urea (50% Nitrogen) will speed that up and keep your soil fertile. 
 
Old leaf-mold or dried, compressed leaves from last autumn are excellent cover too - like pea-straw.  
 
Compost from your carbon-cycle compost bin is a step-up from just “mulch”. It contains a variety of nutrients that will become available when plants start growing again in September. 
 
Lawn clippings are perhaps a bit too soggy to drape over the garden soil. Often they will lie there as a wet, damp mat, going slimy etc. If you use those around tree trunks, make sure they do not touch the base of the tree, otherwise you can get collar rots and such Fatal Fungal Fatalities. Best to mix them with sawdust/woodchips to create that “balance” of N:Carbon of 1:30. 
 
Adding fertilisers? Not now! Still far too cold to be of any use and in rain it all washes off down-hill, polluting water courses – streams – rivers – oceans. 
 
Coffee grinds? Not great as a mulch! Acidity will become too high. Also, fine particles will reduce the amount of air in the soil and hence increases water retention and “pugging”. It’s best to chuck your spent coffee grounds into a compost bin and let them do one cycle in there. 

LISTEN ABOVE