What you are able to produce from your garden is directly related to the soil. If your soil isn't any good your plants will struggle, if you want your plants to strive (and who doesn't?) you need an optimal growing medium. The good news is that even if you have poor soil (sandy, clay etc.) you can improve them! Yay! The dirt here where I live was in such bad shape when I got here that it actually hurt my skin, that's not good.
I am lucky to have access to a number of things I can use to improve my soil.
-Duck poo (I work on an industrial duck farm so there is always lots of poo)
- Horse poo ( My neighbours bred horses!)
-Green waste ( the local supermarket gives me 3 larges boxes of spoilt fruit and
veggies every two days. )
-Turkey bedding (my turkeys provide me with heaps of used straw full of beneficial poo)
If I added all this poo straight onto my gardens it would burn the plants, so I need to compost it first. My favourite way of doing this is by using my raised garden beds. I just pile everything into my frame work (old tank rings, railway sleepers etc.) directly onto the existing soil. A layer of poo then a layer of grass clippings then a layer of straw then some more poo then fallen leaves then green waste then more poo. Every couple of layers I water it to keep it moist and as if by magic it starts to heat up. This is a good way of killing off weed seeds as the heat makes them un-viable. I love to stick the spade in every few days and really stir it up! This shot shows what the mix looks like after about two or three weeks. Notice that some of the 'ingredients' are starting to brake down, there are still some large particle's like the cabbage leaves.
At this point I sometimes throw in a good few hand fulls of organic canola seed. I sprouts and grows quite quickly and when its about 10cm high or more I just hoe it back in. This adds heaps to the soil and gives me some much needed exercise!
By placing all this good stuff directly on the ground the worms get an opportunity to move in. Worms are a good sign that you are on the right track with your soil. When I moved here I really thought that there were no worms! they had just temporarily moved out, as soon as the soil improved they came back! I love worms! When I was younger I was scared of them but now I wouldn't be with out them. I love this photo ! How good does the dirt look? I just want to eat it. All the large things have been broken down into a fine moist yummy mix (well the worm thinks so). Now my seedlings will grow like mad!
I have found that once a year I just need to top up these beds with a bit more straw, poo and green waste.
I'm lucky that my mum lives by the sea and whenever I visit I try to collect some seaweed to bring home. This is amazing stuff and really gets things moving! With seaweed though I am always careful to wash it thoroughly as it comes with heaps of salt! Salt is excellent on your chips but not on your gardens. My grandmother always used to say "everything in moderation dear" and this is something I try to keep in mind when I'm in the garden!