Healthy soil is the key component of an organic garden ecosystem. It is the foundation for plants to grow on, a habitat for a variety of insects, algae, and fungi, along with being a natural processing facility where organic matter is recycled back into the ecosystem.
Plants depend on soil for nutrients, stability, and water. Healthy soil is a complex living community made up of air, decaying organic matter, inorganic material, water, and billions of organisms. Some of these organisms form partnerships with the root systems of plants to extract nutrients from the soil, while others play an important role in the break down of organic matter, and the cycling of nutrients.
Most nutrient cycling normally takes place in the upper two foot horizon of soil where there is a supply of air, food, and water for microorganisms to thrive. These microorganisms include algae, bacteria, and fungi. Microorganisms work hard in conjunction with insects and burrowing animals to break down spent plant and animal life. In this process, they release carbon dioxide into the air, and nutrients into the soil for plant life to benefit from.
Organic gardeners produce healthy crops by working in harmony with nature, and the key in having a successful organic garden is to build a healthy soil ecosystem. This can be accomplished by the incorporation of compost, cover crops, manure and rock minerals as soil amendments. These are the same practices that nature uses naturally in fields, forests and meadows. Watching and following these practices in your garden will provide a healthy environment for nature to provide you with the many benefits it can only offer.
Soil is a renewable resource, but uses can render a soil unsustainable when disturbances exceed the formation of recovery, one example being erosion. Improving a soil structure, or maintaining it can done by amending it with organic matter. This will provide food source for organisms to thrive, and in return they will provide nutrients for plant life to flourish.
Soil is most susceptible to erosion once the surface has been striped of plant life, or surface litter that protects if from the wind and water runoff. The root systems of plant life hold soil together and anchor it in place. Once a soil is left unprotected, even for a short period of time, it is susceptible to the danger of erosion. Cover crops can protect from this happening, and provide organic matter that is needed to maintain a healthy soil structure. Some cover crops go one step further by the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere. Nitrogen is a primary nutrient for all green plants.
Healthy soil is essential to grow healthy plants that can survive diseases, and pests naturally.
Source by John Yazo