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List of ways to enrich your soil  RSS feed

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Let´s list, without big fuss, all the possible ways we know to enhance soil fertility, or avoid soil depletion.

I think everyone desires that.

- adding kitchen compost, plant leftovers, etc
- adding tree leaves
- adding green manures cut and lay (alfalfa, buckwheat, mustard, broad beans, etc)
- adding liquid compost
- adding liquid feeds containing comfrey, nettles, yarrow
- adding mulching
- adding diluted urine
- ground covers
- grow carbon rich crops (corn, grasses, amaranth, trees...)
- Huegelkultur (bury wood)
- add fish meal, egg shells, blood meal, bone meal, alfalfa meal, ashes, rocks, sand, clays
- make soil aerated, with a good light structure
- dense planting?
- add animal manures
- n-fixing crops (elaeagnus, lupins, etc)
- dynamic accumulators (cornflower, dandelion, yarrow, etc)
- intercropping, polycultures, companion planting
- grow harvestable green manure to the lowlands of your property (where nutrients leach)

Please feel free to add to list.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Grow tillage radishes in late summer. They will send thick roots down 18-20 inches (a half metre), and then winter kill.

Then just let them rot in place. They will leave great tunnels for air and water to penetrate (plus worm holes).

 
James Slaughter
Posts: 94
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Chinampa - "a method of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture which used small, rectangle-shaped areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico".

Involves seasonal flooding around the growing areas to improve the fertility as well as hold in potential runoff sediment from the land. Basically like vegetable gardening on swales.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zANQy_gjC0I for more info.

Terra preta - "made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil". So much wisdom came from the Americas...such a pity that the west was able to conquer them.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1368
Location: northern California
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Biochar....building on the terra preta mentioned above. Lots of info on line about this. I took a couple of old metal barrels and trash cans and started charring all the paper and woodchips I could find when I lived in GA. Charged it with urine.....wonderful results.....
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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You forgot kelp meal. Also, rock dust if your soil is mineral poor.

Soil inoculant doesn't necessarily make your soil richer per se, but it does help plants grow about twice as large which means more biomass and thus faster soil building.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1368
Location: northern California
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And don't forget wood ash! Especially in acid-soil areas....might have to beware of it in alkaline zones. It makes intuitive sense....a fire liberates the water and carbon that were put together with solar energy to make the wood, plus much of the energy itself. The residue leftover constitutes in large portion the minerals the trees originally drew up out of the soil....calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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M Troyka wrote: kelp meal

I live on the coast and, the winter storms bring in lots of seaweed. Wonderful stuff.
 
John Alabarr
Posts: 80
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Encouraging ant nests on your property. The ants tunnel deep into the soil and bring soil particles (with their respective nutrients) up and deposit them on the surface making them available to plants. Before, they may have been out of the reach of the roots.
 
Lisa Niermann
Posts: 37
Location: Colorado, ~5700', Zone 5b, ~11" ann. precip
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Add mycorrhizae and fungi! Or is this implied in soil inoculant?
 
Lila Stevens
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Great list! I have a little fish pond (it's actually a molded plastic baby pool that I got for free) and I periodically water my plants with the water, either hauling it around the yard in jugs, or using a small electric pump and hose if I want to deal with the hassle of setting it up. I drain it half way like this, watering my plants, then refill it with fresh water. My plants get nice, de-chlorinated water full of algae, rotting leaves that fell in, and fish waste, and the fish get their water cleaned a bit. My guppies maintain themselves on algae and stuff in the water and the occasional treat from me. I guess different fish would be needed in a cold climate, and a deeper pond too, I'd imagine. I don't think this probably counts as permaculture, but it's something that I think has helped me grow more of my own food in my little yard without purchasing other fertilizers.

 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1237
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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You didn't mention keeping the nutrients in the cycle by returning humanure to the soil.
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