Sunday, May 23, 2010

Soil bacteria is the new black for gardeners.

There is more and more talk recently of adding soil bacteria to increase productivity and disease resistance.
It is an interesting time in horticulture as more poisons are removed from the arsenal of biocides and more natural methods are being reintroduced. Combining traditional methods with modern technological knowledge has the capacity to increase soil and human health, stopping the need for chemical fertilisers by creating fertile soils that are more active and full of carbon.

Biochar is an example of a soil ameliorant that can increase the health of a soil by providing somewhere for bacteria to lurk about. The large surface area provides sites for cation exchange, where nutrients are held and released around the fine root hairs of plants.
Bentonite clay and humus from composted organic matter also provide sites for nutrients to stay around the plant roots and organic matter also holds water. These characteristics are important in sandy soils, especially, as nutrients and water can easily leach away without the addition of organic matter, humus, compost, manures or minerals. You don't need to use all of these products but it is important to add some form of soil enhancer to help the new plant grow.

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