We think that the most important thing to do in any garden is to look after the soil. There is so much going on in the ground and the research into this field is we believe yet in its infancy.
Mulching is one way of improving the health of the soil as the materials rot down slowly and release nutrients to the plants. It is also a great way of reducing the need for watering and if you plant a new tree or shrub, mulching will help it establish and grow much quicker. We wrote about mulch a few years back in this post.
When your trees gets a bit bigger they create natural mulch with their fallen leaves and it is vital to leave the leaves in place as a habitat for small animals and insects. The earthworms will transform them into an incredibly beneficial soil improver.
Another slightly more unusual way of improving your soil is to install a compost toilet. We have a Swedish model called Separett villa and it separates the urine and the solids. It can be installed in a normal bathroom and has a small economical electrical fan that eliminates odours. The urine is very rich in nitrogen and can be used, diluted as a fertilizer for shrubs and trees. The solids are mixed with a small amount of shredded dried hemp and left for at least six months in a closed container to kill of any pathogens. After that it can be composted further in an ordinary garden compost system. It does not smell as it is separated from the urine and after about a year you are left with what can only be described as black gold. It can be used as a boost around established trees and shrubs and also added to planting holes for new specimens. Another benefit from this system is the fact that it is a closed system. You will not be diluting your waste with water as with a conventional toilet and thus eliminating the process of treating the raw sewerage.
For food waste we have a worm composting system in an old bathtub and it works very well. You can read more about it in this post.
In a few years we have helped nature transform what was a bare field with only creeping buttercups and a patch of brambles into a productive, beautiful space where plants, animals and people can coexist and reap numerous benefits.
Our annual vegetable beds are never dug and we add different materials such as cardboard, sheep wool, woodchips, grass clippings and straw to the top. This reduces the need to weed between the vegetables and adds many different nutrients to the soil.
We also apply a chop and drop policy to most areas where any unwanted or overly opportunistic plants are pulled up or chopped back and simply left on the ground.
We are happy to see mushrooms of different varieties and sizes popping up all over the land. The fact that they are there is a good indicator of a healthy eco system.