Small changes can reduce our environmental impact-part 1, our soil

There’s no room for any doubt now that our world environment is changing. The worlds environment of course is always changing, no year, Century is the same but it’s pretty clear now, that we as humans are hastening up this change.

One striking statement made the other day at Palmsteads soft landscaping day, was from the weatherman Peter Gibbs. He said that in his life so far, the growing season has increased by 4 weeks, yes 4 weeks, one month or by 1/12 of a year!

With the millions of people who garden in the world can make a big difference just with a few small changes in the way we do things. I’m not talking about making wholesale changes, ripping out our gardens but just adjusting the way we work within our gardens. This even may make our time in the garden easier and more enjoyable.

Let’s look at the soil first, a) because it is the MOST important factor in growing plants. We have gone away from nature by stripping away the old leaves, dead growths in the name of tiding up. Take a look around your local wood, how many areas do you see the soil turned over and all the organic matter removed? This is of course left to rot down and is broken up by billions of microorganisms like fungi, insects, bacteria and other little things. This then is food for the plants and makes a good healthy soil. So what do we do? We remove it it and throw it away and then add some odd man made chemical, that doesn’t add any other food other than for the plants. This is all making work for ourselves, the bare soil then makes an ideal weed bed for the weeds. Every time we turn it over, we expose more weed seeds , creating again, more work for ourselves. The answer is a simple one. We can either cut back and leave growth on the beds for nature to rot it down or compost the waste onsite and add it to the beds as a good mulch. That does include as much woody material as possible too. Yes it may look a little messy but the woody material can provide a long term feed to the soil, as it takes nature a lot longer to break down and release its nutrients over a longer length of time. Mulching the beds with a good organic matter helps the beds in so many ways.

  1. It helps to reduce weeds, reduces the need for added fertilisers, so reducing costs
  2. Adds more of great bacteria, fungi and microorganisms into the soil, increasing what’s there already
  3. Doesn’t disturb the soil and so doesn’t disturb the seed bank that’s within the soil, cutting down on weeding (that’s got to be good)
  4. Holds water into the soil, both by the added organic matter acting as a sponge and by cutting down on evaporation from the soil. This helps to cut down on use of water.
  5. Keeps the soil cooler by not allowing direct sunlight and heat onto the bare soil.
  6. Cuts down soil compaction by cushioning any footfall on the soil and also not needing to hoe into the main soil and causing a pan just under the hoe level. These compacted areas within the soil stop water draining though, roots struggle to break though and reduced air within the soil
  7. Helps to increase the air gaps within the soil which allows for better drainage and root growth.
  8. It also helps to lock in carbon to the soil, helping to reduce the carbon within the air. The carbon is currently the biggest negative influence on global warming and the more we can lock into the soil better for the whole environment.

It also helps to save money, energy (ours) and time. Now who wouldn’t want that.

Next area we can look at improving in the way with gardening is to reduce peat within our gardens but I think that’s for next time!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m looking to give my front garden a good mulch this year. I’d reworked it this year. It had previously been covered in weed matting and gravel. The soil is thick heavy clay. It’s badly in need of some more organic matter to improve the air gaps and drainage. My leaf mulch should be ready by Autumn but I’m keeping my eye out for something to add now.

    1. thomashort says:

      Great to hear 😀Green waste is a great compost to use, so is Dalefoots gold compost, another one is bloomin amazing, I use all 3 at various times and depending on the job and would recommend them all

  2. fredgardener says:

    If only everyone could read your post… or gardeners first…

    1. thomashort says:

      Thank you fred 😀

  3. Amanda says:

    I have been adding leaf litter to my garden beds from a large deciduous maple for three years now. To my surprise, without any effort from me and no other composting, the soil has gone from relatively compacted, to rich and friable, even in hot dry areas. I’m presuming this is from the earthworms that have probably moved in. As the tree drops small dead branches, I break them up a little and toss them under hedges, providing habitat and food for decomposing insects and soil bacteria. I now have lots of frogs, lizards and insects. Could not agree more, we need to recycle back into the earth what our garden provides, it will encourage so much richness and improve biodiversity in our gardens. It’s the least we can do.
    Love all the rose posts and the blog generally by the way.

    1. thomashort says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words, I am so pleased you enjoy the posts.
      That’s so pleasing to hear 😀😀😀 it makes such a big difference to the soil and the health of the soil doesn’t 😀 and it’s such an easy way of looking after the garden too
      Long may your garden enjoy your work

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