It goes without saying that 'you are what you eat'. The same can be said for plants. They can grow big on a limited number of nutrients, but the health of the plant is easily compromised and the quality (and deliciousness) of the edible part is reduced.
Improving the health of the soil is beneficial in many ways. Healthy soils accept and retain water more readily. There is greater biodiversity in healthy soils, and the numbers of bacteria and invertebrates are in the millions. The healthier the soil, the greater variety of nutrients found in plants, which are also stronger and more resilient.
Australian soils are naturally low in nutrients. Bayside's predominantly sandy soils tend to be free draining and low in nutrients, while lower lying areas contain higher organic content and moisture-holding capacity.
Sandy soils can be improved by using organic matter like compost; worm castings; chicken, horse and cow manure; straws and mulches. The more of these that are added to the soil, the better the soil quality. Placing mixtures of this organic matter on top of the soils will gradually improve the soil underneath.
You can also make your own compost teas from homemade compost or dried animal manures. Avoid synthetic fertilisers because they often have synthetic nitrogen and heavy metals. The salt content can also burn young seedlings. Existing soil nutrients can also be made more available by regulating the soil pH.
Remember that indigenous plants have adapted to local conditions and soils, so selecting these plants for your garden will greatly improve your chances of success. Growing fruit and vegetables usually requires large amount of soil nutrient for optimum growth. This is particularly true for annual crops, so local soils may need feeding well.
If you need to bring soil into your site, remember that imported soils can bring new weed seeds and diseases to your neighbourhood, so use locally-obtained soils.
Find out more at our composting website section.
Home Harvest booklet (PDF, 7.76MB)
Shows you how to grow your own delicious fresh food.
Live Bayside Plant Bayside booklet (PDF, 8.14MB)
Shows you how to create an indigenous Bayside garden.