Healthy soil

There are billions of living organisms beneath our feet. Bugs, earthworms, bacteria, fungi, mites and others turn dead organic matter into humus. If this underground ecosystem is healthy, so are the plants. Pesticides and artificial fertilisers harm the organisms living in the soil and so should be avoided. Natural products like rock dust, liquid manures and teas can be used to help keep plants healthy, as they improve soil health and boost the likes of vegetables and shrubs. Beneficial garden organisms should ideally be relied upon to tackle pests.


Tip: Use raised beds

If your soil isn’t right for growing vegetables and can’t be optimised very easily, raised beds are a good option. Fill them with a mix of compost and earth rich in nutrients for long-lasting harvest success.

Not all plants need the same type of soil

Does your plant need loam, sand or lots of clay? It’s important to always pick the right soil to keep your plants nice and healthy. In vegetable gardens, planting lots of different varieties including perennial vegetables like tree onions, Good King Henry and Daubenton’s kale is a good way to look after the soil. Crop rotation and mixed crops are important factors.

When it comes to ornamental gardens, mixed beds filled with perennial shrubs and mulch between the plants will keep the organisms in the soil happy– and that will work wonders on your plants. It doesn’t matter what type of plants you have in your garden, healthy soil is the key to any gardener’s success. It needs to be crumbly and aerated with added nutrients if you want your plants to be strong and healthy. Make sure you have the right tools to help you take proper care of the soil.


Tips for a healthy soil

1. The layers of soil should remain intact. Just use a fork to loosen the soil rather than digging it up.

2. Regularly working it with a grubber, cultivator or hoe will keep the top layer nice and crumbly. This will break up the capillaries that the water in the soil evaporates through, meaning that the moisture will stay in the soil for longer. You may have heard it said that you can skip watering three times for every time you work the soil with a hoe.

3. Don’t walk on beds after it has rained to avoid soil compaction, which reduces the amount of oxygen, water and nutrients absorbed.

4. Temporarily fill empty beds with green manure like buckwheat, phacelia and yellow mustard to protect and enrich the soil.

How to make your own fertilizer with nettles – step by step

When it comes to fertilisers, stinging nettles are an essential tool for any organic gardener because they are loaded with silica, potassium and nitrogen. And it’s so easy to make yourself!

What you need

nettles, water, sealed metal or plastic container (with lid), net or fleece (air-permeable), shears, long gloves


Step 1: Starting with a bunch of nettles

Chop up around 1 kg of fresh stinging nettles and mix in a bucket with 10 litres of rainwater. Make sure that the nettles are covered by the water. Cover the container with a net to allow the air in, then leave the nettles to ferment in the partial shade for 10 to 14 days.


Step 2: Stir the fertiliser once a day

Make sure to stir the nettle fertiliser once a day. Tipp:
the fermentation process produces a strong smell, so it’s worth stirring in a handful of stone dust to keep the smell in check.


Step 3: Wait until it stops bubbling

You’ll know the fertiliser is ready when it stops bubbling after two or three weeks. Strain out the remaining plant matter before use – you can either compost it or use it to mulch your beds.
Mix one part fertiliser to ten parts water. Pour around your plants to target the roots or treat your plants with a spray can.