Garden practices to improve soil health

Common garden practices that you can do to improve your soil health.

Soil can be broken down into three properties: physical, chemical, and biological. The physical property are those inherent characteristics of soil types like soil structure and water holding capacity. The chemical properties center on nutrient availability. The biological property is the living portion of the soil. Gardeners influence all of these properties by how they manage their garden and soil.

There are many practices that can improve the soil of a garden. Due to the soil’s complexity, any changes you make could impact more than one soil property.

Here are some common practices to help improve your soil:

Practice Physical Properties Chemical Properties Biological Properties Notes
Reduce Tillage    
Manure Ensure that the compost that you use is properly composted.
Compost Make sure that you use material that has been correctly composted so that it is pest and disease free
Cover Crops  
Mulch  
Commercial Fertilizers     Always soil test and adhere to recommendations
Adding topsoil    
Lime   Always soil test and adhere to recommendations
 Raised Bed In cases where the soil has been contaminated through industry or urban construction the best course maybe to bring in all new soil.

There are a lot of products on the market that claim that they will enhance your soil, but be warned that many of these claims have not been validated by non-biased research. It’s also important to remember that soil is unique to the state and region, so your soil may not respond as a product states. Make sure that the product has been researched on mineral based soils like those found in Michigan. 

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