The Explorer Magazine Winter/Spring 2022 - Page 21


Who is putting in a garden this year ? The woods can give us some hints at good gardening practices if we take a closer look .
by Park Naturalist Sarah Wolf
SURFACE Picture the last time you walked in the forest . What did you notice about the surface of the forest floor ? Was it bare ? No ! The forest floor is covered with leaves . Leaves add natural organic matter ( natural fertilizer ) to the soil so that it ’ s easier for plants to grow . Leaves also protect the soil from washing away . Take a tip from the forest and don ’ t let your garden be bare . You can mulch around your flowers and veggies with grass clippings and raked leaves . Bonus : this also cuts down on weeds !
NO-TILL Have you ever seen the forest plowed ? Nope , didn ’ t think so . Rototilling seems to break up compaction , but it actually pulverizes the soil structure , which then compacts more easily when walked on . If you mulch your garden throughout the year and also compost in your garden , your soil will become richer over time , and the soil will feel and look more like large coffee grounds . Plant roots can easily grow through good soil that is not compacted . This results in stronger , healthier veggies . To plant seeds when using the no-till gardening method , simply push a stick into the soil and drop a seed into the opening .
NO MONOCULTURES Healthy forests are made up of many different plant species . This allows the forest to survive when pests and diseases harm or kill certain species of trees or shrubs . Some plants help each other grow . Legumes such as redbuds and black locust add nitrogen to the soil which promotes growth in all plants . To mimic the forest , plant a variety of flowers and vegetables in your garden . Including peas and beans will add nitrogen to your garden which will enhance the growth of all the plants in your garden .
Let us know if you try these tips and how they work for you ! Happy Gardening !
Learn more by reading Paradise Lot : Two Plant Geeks , One-Tenth of an Acre , and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City by Eric Toensmeier . Homeschool kids can learn more about soils during the April Homeschool Ecology lessons .
Winter / Spring 2022 21