Soil – the backbone of every garden.
Soil, or top soil, is one of the foundations of life. We rely on it for 95% of the food we eat, and it is also vital for the fight for the climate and in the call to support the ecological emergency we face. Soil is a carbon sink that holds onto carbon as long as it isn’t disturbed and it is for this reason that at Incredible Edible Bristol we support No Dig gardening. This is a method that feeds the soil with mulches of cardboard, compost, well rottedmanure and doesn’t disturb the soil in any way.
Traditionally we dug our soil, often very deeply in a method called double digging which saw trenches dug and soil moved around. Whilst this is still done, in the city we feel supporting nature, both above and below the soil, and supporting the soil to be a carbon sink, is more important moving into the future. There has been research over the years that shows urban soils in gardens, parks and allotments as far healthier than that in our traditional farmlands and so we are working hard to ensure that remains the case.
Soil preparation is far from hard but it’s also something that is often passed over by gardeners, who then end up complaining the following year about poor yields or dreadful amounts of pests and disease. All these things are helped by a simple top dressing of well rottedfarmyard manure, homemade compost and/or a mix of the two, which will feed the soil, help maintain it’s health and it’s structure. This is important not just for yields but also to maintain the microscopic flora and fauna that lives in billions in every teaspoon of soil, and help fight off fungal disease and pest attacks. Healthy plants can fight back when they are being attacked whereas those in nutrient poor soil will struggle, making it worthwhile to barrow compost and manure over your plot and putting as deep a layer over the soil as is possible. Of courseit’s also great to suppress weed seeds and stop them germinating, which is a real bonus too.