Not all soil is created equally…

When planting something new, I like to think about from where this particular plant (family) has originated and try to mimic these conditions. Is it a Lavender shrub that once grew only in a Mediterranean climate and thrives in any moderately fertile, free-draining , chalky or more alkaline soil in full sun? Or a Pacific Huckleberry that shows its lush green best in the forests of our West coast, rooting into an old cedar nurse log, moist and decayed, under the canopy of large trees that provide just the right filtered light..? Different types of plant material have different water, light, nutrients and soil texture requirements.

Soil texture refers to the size and shape of the particles that make up a particular soil sample. Therefore, there is variation in the amount of space between these particles for air and/or water. All soils are made up of four important components that effect water retention and nutrient availability for our plants. Clay, silt and sand grains, together with organic matter, such as decomposed leaves and wood are the basis of our garden soils. One seldom regards the precious microscopic world within our soil. Without it, our gardens would cease to exist, but it is these miniature animals and their relationships that give our soil life and our garden plants good health.

A general summary of ecological planting practice can include:

Amending the soil with a rich amender early in the growing season, when the weather is cool to add organic matter and enhance the soil community. Save leaves to mulch around plants to reduce moisture loss in hot weather and soil erosion in wet weather. Do not compact soil during wet weather. Mulch with clean cardboard to reduce evaporation. This provides an organic  weed control and encourages fungal environment for trees and shrubs, A fungal environment in the soil creates a microscopic network that increases the exchange of moisture and nutrients around the root zone.

Do not put chemicals on your plants and in your soil. This kills the natural organisms that live there. For more information on this topic research soil food web.  Or, read ‘Teaming with Microbes’ , by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis