Last week we covered how to get your garden plants trimmed up for cooler weather. Before you throw away all the litter from the plants you trimmed, let’s talk about getting your soil straightened out.
Now is a great time to supplement San Diego’s clay soil with some hard-core compost and organic materials to improve next year’s dirt. Basically this comes down to amending soil and mulching.
My dad asked me a few weeks ago: “Why do people compost?”
The answer is to make a better type of soil for the plants we plant. It’s similar to fertilizing and to differentiate, I’ll use an analogy: If you’re trying to get your body into shape, fertilizer is the protein powder you take to boost muscle development. Composting and amending is the exercise you do to make your body break down and rebuild itself as a stronger unit.
How to get your soil straightened out:
- Decide what to use. Whether you decide to buy pre-made compost or use your own, make sure it’s got a nice mild PH and a good mix of 50% organic material (or Potash) and 50% aerating material (large bark or wood chips).
- Spread the compost evenly along the top of your planting beds and gently work it into the top layer of soil.
- Chose a mulch. Bark is great option–when it decomposes, it enriches the soil. Hay is great for the same reason but it’s not as visually appealing or long lasting as bark. Rock, or gravel, is the last option. These mulches all hold in water and help prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Rock mulches don’t hold as much water or decompose and improve your soil.
- When mulching, remember to leave a ring around trees and plants un-mulched so the roots have some room to breathe and dry out.