After having a workshop on soil and working on creating a podcast about soil, I’ve learned a great deal about building and maintaining healthy soil organically. Even though I knew some of this already, I definitely learn something new every time we host a workshop or I do some research.

ASPI is starting up a podcast series about sustainable living, and our first podcast will about healthy soil! It will feature content from our workshop, an interview with our local extension agent, and hopefully another interview. We’ll definitely share when it’s completed!

I wanted to share some interesting tips and facts from our most recent workshop and interviews about soil:

Often, tomatoes are in need of calcium. A simple way to get calcium directly to your tomato plants is to crush up an eggshell and drop it in the hole when you’re planting your tomatoes. Eggshells can also be used crumbled on top of the soil to deter slugs from getting to your plants.

Legumes (beans and peas) fix nitrogen in the soil. So they are an excellent way to get nitrogen in your soil for future crops. Plants beans or peas in a section of your garden one year, and then rotate crops the next year so that other plants can benefit from that nitrogen. Just make sure to leave the roots of the legumes in soil at the end of the season!

Another method of getting nitrogen and other important nutrients to your plants is to make a “tea”. For example, after you mow your lawn gather the grass clippings into a bucket, fill the bucket with water, and let it sit overnight. The next day, you can pour this tea onto your garden which will be high in nitrogen.

If you do buy fertilizer for your garden (make sure it’s organic!), read the instructions for how much to use for the size of your garden. When you overload on nutrients, that can actually be bad and make it difficult for your plants to grow. Our extension agent describes it as trying to growing in salty soil. If you’re not sure what your garden needs, get your soil tested and give your garden just the nutrients it needs!

Triazine can be a problem in your soil. It is a common herbicide often used in corn fields because it kills broadleaf plants. In addition to being toxic, triazine persists in the soil and doesn’t break down easily. It’s toxic to humans (it’s an endocrine disruptor), and it  can kill your garden plants since most of them are broadleaf. This can be a problem if your garden is in a former corn field that used triazine.