The most important critera to growing a great plant is to provide  your plants with a great soil. This holds true for grass, flowers, trees , shrubs or vegetables. The strength of any plant is in a good root system and roots need good soil to grow in. Sustainable gardening requires the development of a good food web. It is amazing what takes place in a good organic soil. Westchester’s heavy compacted clay soils need amending to make them good soils to grow sustainable healthy plants.

The strength of any plant is in its roots. The root system of a plant is dependend on the soil it is grown in.  Good soil structure is important.    An optimal soil is listed as 25% water, 25 % air, 45% Minerals and 5 % organic matter.  Water and air are essential to all living things.

Minerals come from unconsolidated products of rock erosion and organic decay. This makes up the largest percentage of our soil.  The organic matter is the life of the soil and it is what makes soil productive.   A rich organic soil is teaming with life. This is where we can play an important role in improving our soils and making them great.

The preparation of the planting bed which I have provided formulas for you to follow in my book “12 Steps To Natural Gardening” is the key to developing a strong food web. A strong food web creates sustainable gardens. The addition of organic matter improves our soils. Although 5% organic matter is necessary for a good soil 10% makes for an even better one. Constantly adding organic matter to your soils is the key to growing great plants.  I made the switch in my greenhouses to the organic approach 10 years ago and the increased quality of my plants amazed me.

Composting is an important activity you should practice for compost adds excellent organic matter to your soils. It is cost effective and environmentally sound. However there are many products and many ways you can add organic products to your soil. The key is to add these products to supply the carbon needed in your soil.

It is carbon that feeds the microbes in the soil. It is the microbes that break down the organic matter in soils and release nutrients to your plants. It is the microbes that form symbiotic relationships with your roots and develop strong and deep root systems. It is the microbes that break down the toxins in your soil and purify it. The food web is an amazing community of life. It is nature’s way of providing us with great soils to grow plants in. We can enhance this by adding organic matter.

I am a strong believer that the greater the mixture of organic matter added to your soil the greater the nutrient value of the plants you grow. For our vegetable crops this is an important factor to consider and for the rest of your plants this combination builds up their immune system. An increased immune system resists insect and disease invasions.

When we apply chemical fertilizers, weed killers, toxic insecticides and fungicides, we are killing the microbes in our soil. We have heard of the term dead soil. This is soil we can’t grow anything in because we have killed the life within the soil.

Good soil supports plant life and poor soil doesn’t. It is important that we understand what takes place in our soils.  It is a complex exchange of life that creates a food web. We need to protect that life. We need to team with microbes.  Microbe lives matter.

Spring is the time a lot of planting takes place. Make sure your soils are properly prepped. Once you have created a good soil you will grow great plants. In my book “12 Steps to Natural Gardening” are many formulas for developing good soils. My general formula is listed below.


Per 100 square feet dig and mix into the top one foot area:

1 bale of Peatmoss 3.8 cubic feet.

1 bag of Coir

*2 bags of Lobster Compost: 40lb bags.

*2 bags of Penobscot mix: 40 lb bags.

2 bags of Cow Manure 20lb

2 bags of Black Earth top soil 40lbs.

1 lb Mineral Rock Dust

5 pounds of Garden Lime

5 pounds of Bone Meal

8 pounds of Plant Tone (Espoma)

1 Myke 15 oz.

*Note – for vegetable garden use 3 Lobster and 1 Penobscot

Skip to toolbar