As an herb gardener the top priority is the health of herbs which in fact relates to building a healthy garden soil. Improving the quality and nutrients of soil is a continuous process.
The goal of all gardeners is to grow healthy herbs that yield bountiful harvest. There is a complex soil food web which is actually an eco-system and a chain of cycle that maintains the micro-organisms and the quality of soil. This astonishing diversity of life in the earth consists of organisms ranging from the minutest one cell bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoa to the greater and visible ones like beneficial insects and earthworms.
These organisms are an integral part of the health of soil and the landscaping process. They are key entities in decomposing organic compounds, compost, foliage and plant residues. They prevent them from polluting the water. They make available essential nitrogen for the plants. Many living organisms improve aeration and porosity in the soil.
Adding natural fertilizers and compost – The organic matter in the soil is continuously changing. By using same crops every year, the quality of soil is bound to degrade. Adding organic mulch becomes necessity and is very crucial in maintaining and enhancing the health of soil. A layer of mulch is required for moisture retention. The manure should not be directly put on the soil bed; it has to turn into compost before applying. The compost slowly decomposes into the soil and thus helps in providing the nutrients to the soil.
Reduce tilling – Reduction in overturning the soil is a must. If you disturb the top of soil often, the eco-system and the cycle of the organisms living in the surface layers are broken. The chain of beneficial bacteria and fungi threads are disturbed. Avoid digging unless necessary, the soil can be tilled only during incorporating organic fertilizer and in the initial steps of laying garden beds. Remember the golden rule – the least digging you do to the soil is the best you provide for the micro life in the earth. All these micro organisms eat, grow and move through the soil to keep the soil, water and air healthy. They are responsible for healthy herbs in the garden.
Keeping the soil covered – Often we hear the tern soil corrosion, this happens when there is no protection for the top surface, heavy rains can sweep the most important cover of the soil that contains the highest concentration of organic matter. Trees keep the soil from washing away, they do an important job of saving and protecting the soil and its nutrients. For an herb garden, the soil can be covered with plants for ground cover or organic mulch. Mulch retains the moisture and rain water. The topmost layer of soil protects the soil food web chain and the carbohydrate line. Covering ground goes a long way in providing a stable environment to the microbes and earthworms. As the foliage and roots of the shrubs and herbs decay, they provide food for the many micro-organisms keeping the channel for reinforcements and new roots to spring out from earth.