Prepare your garden for fall and winter – four easy steps

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The rain of the last few months, often quite abundant, has hardened the upper layer of the soil. This reduces the air in the soil that plants need for development and root growth.

Instead of the back-breaking work of digging and turning the soil, there is an easier way to loosen the soil that doesn’t disturb or destroy the many soil microorganisms that help keep plants healthy.

Step 1 Prick and Stir

Water thoroughly to soften the soil. Prick the softened soil with a garden fork. Push the pitchfork as deep into the ground as possible and wiggle it around.

It is the same technique as for pricking a lawn. The effect is to open up the soil for water, air and compost to penetrate deeply without disturbing its layers.

Why not dig: Digging and turning the soil tends to bring deeper soil life that does not need oxygen to the surface, while that which does is buried at subsoil level. Neither can survive and it takes time for the balance to be restored, which affects the fertility of the soil.

Step 2 spread and soak

After seeding, spread a thick layer of compost or an application of organic fertilizer over the surface. Compost is a source of carbon which is the basis of soil fertility. To ensure enough carbon is added, supplement with a carbon-based soil amendment, such as EcoBuz HumiGro. HumiGro is a granular product that can be dissolved in a watering can and applied by drench. It also helps to water the compost.

Did you know? The underlying principle of the no-dig philosophy is that soil is an ecosystem that requires as much attention as the plants it contains.

Step 3 take a break

Water well after changing the beds and let sit for about a week, keeping it moist.

It may seem like nothing is happening, but below the surface the ground is teeming with life. Healthy soil includes fungi and bacteria (billions in just one teaspoon!), protozoa, arthropods and more, which are a food source for insects and earthworms. From these come the nutrients from the soil which are taken up by the plants.

Step 4 ready, stable, plant…

The soil is ready for planting winter and spring flowers, vegetables and herbs. All you have to do is make a small hole for the plants and firm the soil around the plant.

Give plants a healthy start by watering them with a combination of EcoBuz StartGro, a blend of micronutrients for healthy development, and Root Pro, which protects roots from soil-borne diseases. Root Pro contains a beneficial natural fungus that grows in symbiosis with plant roots, thereby “inoculating” the plant against disease.

Mix RootPro into a paste before diluting with water. It can then be mixed with StartGro in a watering can and applied by dipping.

Two weeks later, apply another watering of StartGro and then use MultiGro once a month as a maintenance tonic to keep the plants strong and healthy.

www.ecobuz.co.za

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