Organic gardeners pay more attention to the quality of their soil than almost anything else. Feed the soil and it feeds your plants.
To get “good” soil, it needs nutrients. Commercial nurseries and garden centers sell many different things that all claim to be the best. So how to pick?
If you’re a lazy gardener like me, the one amendment to use is compost. Compost is organic matter that’s been decomposed, and it’s full of good nutrients for all plants, especially nitrogen. Compost can even aid in pest control with its humic acids and ammonium (by-products of the composting process) distasteful to garden pests.
Either make your own or buy in bulk or in bags at your local garden center. Some communities offer compost at the local dump. We’re lucky to have free mushroom compost available from a local mushroom farm – just drive in and dig as much as you can take with you.
Make your own compost using one of several methods that work, but one of the easiest (if you have the room) is to pile all your yard debris plus fruit and vegetable peelings in one area and let it do its thing. One additional step up is to mix it a little to aerate once in a while. This method takes some time and space dedicated to the process, but it works.
Other methods are simply upgrades from this basic recipe. Enclose the area on three sides with concrete blocks or 3 wood pallets for the next level up. Of course, you can get fancier with compost, but that’s another post.
By far the laziest way to compost is sheet composting, where you use thick mulch between the soil and your plants that will eventually decompose. Alfalfa hay or straw is a good choice, but (non-colored) newspaper will work – just throw your peelings underneath!