Soil structure and vitality is at the absolute core of organic gardening. Soil is home to a quarter of our planet’s biodiversity and can increase our resilience to climate change by locking in greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, storing carbon, and helping to prevent flooding. The wellbeing of all plants and land-based animals depends on the complex processes that take place in soil. It contains a myriad of different organisms, which interact and contribute to the cycles that make all life possible.
Soil biodiversity relates to the range of living organisms within the soil, including earthworms, microorganisms, and the roots of plants, all of which contribute towards the wider ecosystem of a green space. Nowhere in nature are species so densely packed as in soil communities. For example, a teaspoon of soil can contain more living organisms than there are people living on earth.
A typical ecosystem in a healthy soil might contain:
- Several species of vertebrates (animals with a backbone)
- 20-30 species of mites
- 50-100 species of insects
- Tens of species of nematodes (roundworms)
- Hundreds of species of fungi
- Several species of earthworm
- Thousands of species of bacteria and actinomycetes (fungi-like bacteria)
It is for these reasons and more that traditional methods of farming and soil cultivation are being left behind and replaced with newer, more environmentally profitable methods like no-dig gardening.
In principle, by not digging we avoid disrupting the important micro-organisms, fungi and worms that all help feed plant roots and contribute to strong, healthy plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. Not only does digging risk bisecting worms with a spade, but agricultural research has shown that the more often and deeper that soil is disturbed, the fewer and smaller are the worms found in it.
Digging also tears up mycorrhiza which are invisible fungus-like networks that live symbiotically with plants. Mycorrhiza grow slowly at only 15-20cm a year and reach further and deeper into the earth than plant roots, giving them access to nutrients out of reach to surrounding plants. Digging destroys these networks, preventing them from establishing themselves widely, thus reducing some plants’ ability to access nutrients and resist pests and drought.
Compost is the lifeblood of any organically managed garden and has a wide variety of uses, from top dressing beds and lawns, to sowing seeds and using in pots and planters. Compost enriches soil, helps to retain moisture, stabilises the pH level and suppresses the spreading of plant diseases and pests. Compost consists of everything your plants need to thrive such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as a whole host of other essential micronutrients and minerals.
Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and encourages the production of beneficial fungi and bacteria that break down organic matter into a rich, nutrient-filled substance called Humus. These are only a few benefits that a healthy composting system can bring to any garden.
Compost is a fantastic method of building soil structure and creates ideal growing conditions that your plants and flowers will love!
What we can do for you
Beorn Wilde provide a range of proactive composting solutions that can be adapted to suit any environment, so regardless of whether you have an allotment, a garden or a windowsill, we have the solution for you!
If your green space is large enough, we can provide and construct suitably sized, long-lasting compost bins made from either up-cycled, environmentally safe pallets or weather-treated timber. If space is limited then we have a variety of options that will enable you to cut down on your waste as well as providing a source of compost ideal for filling pots and sowing seeds.
As part of every package, we include a workshop and reading materials that will show you how to create your own nutrient-rich compost as well as a list of what to add and what to avoid. Typically, food waste such as bones and dairy should not be added to the compost heap because there’s a high likelihood that this will attract the unwanted attention of rats, foxes. However, there are methods of rendering traditionally un-compostable food waste down into a compostable state.
A few example of the types of composting we can help you with are as follows:
- Hot composting
- Bokashi Composting
- Green manure
- Mushroom composting
- Direct composting
- & more!