Build Up Your Garden Soil

I will begin todays post with a current event topic: As I write this, Russia invaded Ukraine last night. The sanctions the NATO countries are imposing on Russia will have an impact on all of us. Gas prices were already very high and this move is expected to cause gas to become even higher. If gas becomes more expensive, the cost of everything else we need to buy will rise as well. As a result, our frugal ways and our gardens become even more important. During WWII Americans were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens. The gardens we will grow now will be called something else, but will be equally as important to us.

Being frugal at any time requires us to be creative in problem solving. I believe that skill will be even more valuable in months to come.

As winter becomes spring, many of us will start our own seeds in order to have our own plants to transplant into our gardens. This is also a good time to consider making our soils as fertile as we can. Fertile soils produce healthier plants to produce our vegetables. There are a couple of ways to test our soils. One way is to buy a soil testing kit at a garden center. The other way is to take a your soil sample to your County Agricultural Extension Office to be tested. Either method will tell you what additives your soil needs. There are any number of commercially produced chemical fertilizers to be purchased at garden centers once you know what your soil needs. Being the ecologically frugal person that I am, I prefer to no use chemicals. I choose to use natural ways to enrich my soil. For example: worm castings (worm poop) are excellent natural fertilizers. The castings can often be purchased at farmer’s markets. Being the independent person that I am, I have my own red wiggler worms in two bins in my garage that are producing the castings I will need while they are eating raw vegetable and fruit waste from my kitchen. If I throw banana, apple, squash, etc. peels in the garbage and they are taken to the landfill, the rotting peels produce methane gas which damages the atmosphere. If I feed the peels to my worms, the worms produce castings which are excellent natural fertilizers for my garden — a win for me and a win for the Earth.

Most manures are good fertilizer (goat, sheep, cow, horse) but those manures must age and break down somewhat before being used on plants. Fresh manures will burn the plants. That is not the case for worm castings and rabbit manure. Those two will not hurt your plants if used fresh.

I also make compost from dried leaves, grass clippings, the peels that either can’t be fed to the worms or are too much for them to consume. Mix in some soil and let it all decompose. The process takes a while, but the results are good for the garden soil.

I also save coffee grounds and crushed up egg shells and sprinkle them on my garden area all year long. These grounds and shells are enriching the soil and would otherwise be dumped in the garbage. Once the ground thaws, I will bury more of the vegetable peelings in the garden area. Once they decompose they will add nutrients to the soil. If you decide to bury waste in your garden, do not bury meat scraps and oily leftovers because they will attract rodents and other pests.

In addition to these ideas, I have learned that the city where I grocery shop has compost they make from yard waste. This compost can be purchased at a very reasonable price. My pickup will be useful in hauling some of it for my garden and plants. Maybe a location near you does the same thing. It’s worth investigating.

Use your creativity in all things that you do. Even if prices do not rise astronomically, actions like the ones I have discussed above will be valuable to the wellness of the Earth. I always feel better psychologically when I am doing positive actions rather than stewing about the conditions of the world in which I live.

Until next week, keep the Ukrainians, world leaders, and our Earth in your thoughts and prayers–

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