Protecting the Soil in a Permaculture Garden


When thinking about our gardens, we tend to focus on the plants. We think about what we can do to keep the plants we wish to grow healthy and looking good. We talk about aesthetics, and about yield. But many gardeners forget to think about one of the most important elements in our gardens – the soil. Without the topsoil, the plants we value would not be able to thrive. Protecting and enhancing the soil is one of the top priorities in a permaculture garden. So, what can we, as gardeners do to protect the soil in our organic gardens?

Protect Soil with a 'No Dig' System

The soil has a complex web that allows nutrients and water to be moved around and plants to grow. Bacteria, fungi, earthworms and other soil biota make up a complex and fragile ecosystem. When we operate a 'no dig' gardening system, we help to make sure that this web remains intact. It is always important to remember that we, as gardeners, should disturb the soil as little as possible.

permaculture gardenMulch with Organic Material

It is important to incorporate organic material in our garden growing areas in order to complete the natural cycles and maintain their fertility. In a 'no dig' system, however, rather than digging in this material, we lay it as mulches on the soil surface. When the soil ecosystem is allowed to operate as it should, this organic mulch material is incorporated into the topsoil through a range of natural mechanisms.

Feed With Organic Liquid Feeds

Another of the ways in which gardeners can feed the soil is through the use of organic liquid feeds. These organic feeds, which you can make at home, will give a quick boost to soil fertility and help the plants that you grow within it.

Cover cropUse Cover Crops

Bare soil can be subject to erosion, and can quickly lose fertility and moisture due to evaporation, leaching and water run-off. Gardeners can avoid degrading soil by making sure that it is not left in an unnatural bare state for too long. Cover crops can be used to cover areas of soil and to reduce the rate of nutrient leaching and water loss. Some cover crops will also be nitrogen fixers which will help to maintain a high level of fertility on the site.

Use Green Manures

Other cover crops may be other types of dynamic accumulator, drawing nutrition from deep below the soil surface, where other plant's roots will not reach. Chopping and dropping these 'green manure' cover crops will help to return nutrients deep below the surface to the topsoil, where those nutrients can be taken up by other plants. Green manures can also help protect and enhance the soil by adding more organic matter.

Take care of the topsoil in your permaculture garden. It is one of the most important things that you can do as a gardener. If we do not take good care of our topsoils, we will lose them. Make sure your garden can endure and thrive for years to come by adopting the sustainable gardening practices mentioned above.