I get comments all the time about ‘our bad soil’ in the Oakhurst, Coarsegold and North Fork areas. Giving this some thought, I’m wondering if gardeners are making use of the natural ‘mulch’ we have in pine needles and oak leaves.
2006- Planting Western sword fern and heuchera
Each year, in my planting areas, I add either one of these to start out the new Spring season. As I weed, I turn over the mulch from last year with my trowel picking up a 1-2″ later of dirt. This incorporates the mulch into the soil and eventually improves the texture of the soil. This could be called a form of sheet composting.
Decomposed granite and clay
Both clay and decomposed granite have plenty of nutrients for growing healthy plants…I don’t think it’s the minerals in the soil that is the problem.
Thick clay needs organic matter added to make it plant friendly
I think it’s the hard texture of un-mulched clay or DG, decomposed granite soil that discourages gardeners and leads them to replace much of the soil in planting beds or cause them to give up entirely an limiting themselves to container gardening.
Mixing in mulch
After adding and mixing in layers of natural mulch into my soil for the last few years, I now have wonderfully friable and workable soil. It’s getting easier and easier to plant. It’s full of earthworms and mycorrhizae, the good soil fungus that helps plants absorb nutrients from the soil. The best thing about adding mulch to soil, is the texture which is loose and fluffy, all the better for plants to grow!
Autumn sage with pine needle mulch, stones hold the plant and water