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Healthy Soil

To improve the soil in an established garden, simply shred the leaves that accumulate from the trees in your yard and spread them over the garden beds.

healthy soil1

Photo: by dvortygirl (flickr)

Soil rich with compost.

Good soil makes gardening easy, as plants grow strong in it and achieve their personal best.

To improve the soil in an established garden, you can simply shred the leaves that accumulate from the trees in your yard and spread them about 6” deep over the garden beds. This is the classic method of sheet composting, and straw (without grass seeds) and seaweed can also be used to enhance the soil this way.

In the spring you will notice that the vegetative matter will have decomposed into humus that is rich in beneficial organisms. The soil structure is helped because humus encourages fungi, bacteria and earthworms, which make the soil porous, allowing both air and water to penetrate more freely.

If you wish to create a new garden bed, outline the shape you prefer with a garden hose before you begin. Then lay down organic matter such as leaves, plus layers of newspaper and cardboard, water well, and then apply more leaves or vegetative matter. Next spring you can plant directly through the layers.

Be careful to keep compost and mulch away from the trunks of existing trees and shrubs though, as critters will hunker down in it to keep warm and will chew on your plantings.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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  • Carol Doering

    You mention burning bush, but don’t mention how it is a great problem as an invasive species.  Birds eat the berries and accidentally plant them all over. Unfortunately, we need to get rid of this bush.

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