Soil and Organic Matter

How often do you think about your soil? It is the foundation of your garden. The type and condition of your soil determines how well your plants grow.



Key aspects of soil:


  • Nutrient level
  • Drainage ability
  • Moisture retention
  • pH
  • Microbial life



Start by knowing what kind of soil do you have:


  • Sand
    • Drains quickly
    • Heats up quickly
  • Silt
    • Inbetween sand and clay
  • Clay
    • Easily water-logged
    • Slow to warm
  • Loam
    • Ideal soil
    • Add compost to sand, silt or clay soil to attain loam
    • About 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay mixture



Image result for soil percentages


Credit: FAO


Improving your soil:

No matter what kind of soil you have, it all can be improved with the addition of organic matter.


Organic matter can be:


  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Fertilizer
  • Coconut coil
  • Peat moss (makes the soil slightly acidic
  • Leaf mold
  • Grass clippings
  • Straw



You can also amend the soil through the additions of:

  • pH
    • Too acidic – add lime
    • Too basic – add coniferous needles


  • Kelp


  • Fish meal
    • Good for microbial life
    • Adds nutrients


  • Greensand






Composting is one of the greatest additions you can add to your garden and you can make your own! It’s affordable, organic and you get to re-use waste!


Getting Started:


  • Compost bin
    • Wood
    • Plastic



Image result for compost binImage result for compost binImage result for compost bin



Add only



  • Vegetable scraps
  • Nothing cooked
  • No grains or meat
  • Nothing diseased



  • Newspaper
  • Hay
  • Cardboard
  • Toilet rolls



Make sure that you keep the ratio about 3 brown : 1 green. Every time you add green material to your bin make sure that you add brown. This will help reduce the smell and have an overall better compost.



Common Issues:


  • Smell
    • Too wet or too much green material
    • Maintain about a 3:1 ratio. The smaller the bin, the more brown material you may need to add. Find what works for your compost
    • Add more newspaper or cardboard
    • Don’t add any greens for a while, let it break down




Dealing with Rats:


Rats are a common issue in gardens throughout Richmond. The tips below will help you reduce rats.


  • Lay wire or mesh on the bottom of the compost bin to prevent rats from entering
  • Ensure only vegetable scraps are in the compost bins. Rats cannot be sustained by vegetables alone.
  • Remove clutter from the garden where they can potentially nest
  • Clear out rotting vegetables and place in the bin
  • Turn the compost regularly for proper breakdown
  • Bury added vegetable scraps with leaves
  • Keep moist, but not wet. Rats will not like to nest.
  • Repair holes or replace broken compost bins
  • Optionally add in compost activators, natural supplements that help breakdown compost faster