Soil Health

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Healthy soil makes a healthy plant. If the soil is deficient in nutrients, especially nitrogen or phosphorus, plants will fail to grow. If the soil lacks good bacteria, the plants will be more susceptible to disease as well. 

On a nutritional note soil that is depleted in minerals, cannot give your produce minerals. This leaves your food lacking in minerals and cannot give you minerals you need.  The best way to determine what your garden has or is lacking in minerals is to take several samples of the soil and have it tested for the mineral content.  Having the soil tested is the best way to determine how much fertilizer you need as well.

For fertilizer I like to use horse manure as it is abundant and must be cleaned out of the pen anyway.  You can use about any livestock manure for fertilizer. Don’t have any? Talk to people in your community.  Anyone who has some usually has an overabundance and will probably gladly get you some of their excess.  Be mindful of the nitrogen content of the manure.  To much can burn your plants.  Using manure for fertilizer is best when applied in the fall and allowed to sit all winter breaking down.  This will also help any excess nitrogen to work into the soil and not burn your plants in the spring.  You can also water extra during the growing year if the plants are looking a little burned. 
Plants absorbs up what is in the soil, both good and bad.   They take up the minerals, and the water, and any chemicals also in the soil. Therefore, it is important to know the source of your plants, especially when using them medicinally.  When preserving herbs, some of these properties can be concentrated.  This is especially true if the plant is being made into an essential oil.  Make sure you know the essential oil company and they know the source of their plants.  Need help? I know a great company and will gladly share with you.   

Keep these in mind when tending the pests in your own garden. Using mulch for weed prevention is better than round up.  Mulch also helps preserve the moisture and encourages good bacteria growth as it breaks down the mulch and you are not tilling it to keep the weeds out.  Tilling disturbs the soil biome and dries it out.  I till once, to work the manure in just before planting and keep the tiller out after that, mulching the garden with unused or refused hay.  

You can help to keep bugs at bay, by using plants that naturally repel them. Marigolds around the edges of the garden work great for keeping pests out.  Onions and garlic also put off a strong scent that bugs tend to avoid.  Keeping larger plants, like tomatoes spaced out in the garden also helps.  I have had much less bug issues in my tomatoes since I started spacing them throughout the garden instead of all together.  

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