Do you plant your garden in the same place year after year? Have you noticed your garden soil has become dry and hard and just refuses to hold water? When plants continue to pull the same nutrients from the soil growing season after growing season, your once healthy soil turns into what we unaffectionately refer to as...dirt. This is a gradual process over time that you may not even notice is happening. But when your soil is healthy, it should feel soft and spongey and crumble easily in your hand. It should also feel slightly moist and smell fresh and earthy.
We talk a lot about healthy soil here at Purple Cow Organics, but why does it matter, why should you put the effort into improving the health of your soil? SO MANY REASONS! First of all, let's start on a small scale. If you're a vegetable gardener, healthy soil means larger fruits, brighter colors, more nutritious vegetables, stronger root systems, less chance of pests, diseases, and weeds; the list goes on and on and that's just your own personal garden.
On a larger scale, healthy soil can soak up 18-20 times its weight in water, meaning this healthy sponge of an ecosystem can hold approximately 27,000 gallons of water per acre! Imagine how much of an impact that can have to prevent flooding, erosion and run-off into rivers and oceans! And that's not even mentioning the fact that healthy plants pull carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil. That's right, healthy soil can store large amounts of Carbon and combat global warming.
So what does the term "healthy soil" mean exactly? Soil should be a living ecosystem with billions and billions of microorganisms working hard to break down nutrients and make them available for root uptake. To put things in perspective, there are more living organisms in a tablespoon of healthy soil than there are humans on earth. These organisms moving around and doing their jobs is what keeps the soil aerated and fluffy, and enables that massive water holding capacity. Tillage, compaction, drought, and a lack of nutrients can all damage these living organisms and negatively impact your soil health.
Now that we understand what soil health is and why it's important, the next logical question is, how do you improve the health of your soil? The short answer is that you need to replace what the plants have removed from the soil. Most gardeners will add a fertilizer with a high NPK rating...which is great...but plants take away so much more than just N, P and K. Adding an organic plant-based compost will add back all of the other trace minerals and nutrients because it is made from the very plants that soaked up the nutrients in the first place!
If you don't have the space to add more bulk material, you could also try a liquid biological like our Purple Cow CX-1. This sounds complex but it's essentially a liquid version of a compost, that contains thousands and thousands of species of microbes. Pair this with a plant-based food source and you've got all of the goodness of adding organic matter inside your watering can! The combination of carbon in the soil, biology, and minerals is how you get the winning cycle of constantly healthy plants and constantly healthy soil.
For more information on our plant-based composts, Purple Cow CX-1, or the rest of the Purple Cow product line, please don't hesitate to reach out to us through the Contact tab at the top of the page.