To create a healthy, balanced soil in your ecological garden, use every alternative to cultivating that you can find. Be sure to mulch and otherwise keep the soil covered. (If you want to see what will happen when you fail to protect the soil, take a chunk of bare earth and aim your hose at it.) Return what you take from the garden to the garden (leaves, dead and dying plants – unless they are diseased). Feed with organic matter. Compost, compost, compost.
- Make sure you know what kind of soil and drainage you have, and work with it or amend it to accommodate the plants you want to grow. Find out what was added to your soil before you took possession. If the area has been stripped of topsoil or if chemicals have built up in the soil, you will have to improve the soil over a period of time.
- Plant when pests are less evident.
- A handy way to inoculate your soil against diseases is to plant marigolds, and then rotate them from year to year. An added bonus: rodents don’t like them.
Learn to treasure the soil and approach it as a living creature rather than some dead stuff you clunk plants into. The more you are aware of the symbiosis between yourself and the soil, the more careful you will be with this miraculous substance.
Excerpted from Ecological Gardening. Published by Random House. Copyright © 2008 by Marjorie Harris. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Random House.