|Latest Update 1st April 2019.|
Most organic gardeners seem to spend a lot of time refining their soil conditions using (organically approved) amendments. I have formed the view, influenced by Dr Elaine Ingham of Soil Foodweb fame, that most soils in the world contain all the minerals plants will ever need. These minerals are locked up in the soil's rock particles and don't appear in soil tests which measure only soluble mineral content.
I also believe that a soil full of beneficial microorganisms and their predators are capable of extracting these minerals as and when the plants need them in return for photosynthesised sugars and other energy foods produced by plants. Check out my blogpage explaining the Soil Foodweb for more details.
This article is linked to my Growing Organic Vegetables blog, and provides support for those readers who wish to grow vegetables in Ecobeds. It is set in a warm temperate climate, and will need to be adapted for other climatic conditions.
Soil Preparation and Maintenance.
To maintain a well structured healthy soil, beneficial soil microorganisms need to be fed regularly. Although plants provide this food in their root zone, control of soil structure, soil pests and soil fertility outside the plant root zones depend on a high organic material content in the soil. So I take the following measures to ensure this is always the case .
Because Ecobed soils are isolated from surrounding soils, positive intervention is needed to maintain a healthy worm population. My worms are well fed with regular applications of microbe rich compost to the soil and continuous nutrient rich plant derived exudates.. I also maintain built-in feeding points where worm food is supplied from the kitchen, and where the worms seem to prefer to lay their eggs. To help maintain worm diversity, healthy worms found elsewhere in my garden are added to the Ecobeds from time to time.