From afar, soil looks still. But soil is actually a community in itself, containing all forms of life within! Apart from the roots of plants, many organisms like earthworms and bacteria, have made soil their cosy homes. In fact, over 25% of all living things live in soil! These organisms, in turn, keep the soil alive and healthy, so, it becomes important for us to help our soil in whatever way we can.
Either using homemade compost and mulch, or buying ready-made versions can really help our soil. It’s very easy to keep our soil happy; they primarily require just 3 things- Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium (NPK).
Nitrogen: this is found in all plant cells, which is why it is essential for soil to have an abundance of it. Some plants even fix atmospheric nitrogen in their roots with the help of a bacteria called rhizobium, to meet their nitrogen needs. By simply providing soil with nitrogen in small quantities in constant time intervals is a good place to start.
Phosphorous: Plants require phosphorous to convert energy that they get from the sun to forms that the plant can use. Bone meal and pulverised rock phosphate are great sources of phosphate. However, too much of anything can be bad, and same is the case here- too much phosphorous in the soil can cause iron and zinc deficiencies.
Potassium: this is basically the WBCs of plants as they keep away diseases. They also help different compounds of the plant, like starches and glucose, move around the plant body. Keep in mind that too much potassium can cause it to enter waterways, causing an algal bloom which will lead to the death of other organisms.
At MakeMyGarden, we make a special potting mix- the 5G mix- that has proven time and again to nurture soil very well. The mix contains a little bit of neem cake powder, rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, sulphur and calcium; karn ja cake, which is a natural fertilizer and organic pest repellent; mahua seed cake, an excellent source of protein; mustard cake, providing all kinds of micro nutrients to the soil; and finally, castor cake, a simple manure that expedites microbial activity.
Without healthy soil, our plants will not be healthy. If our plants are not healthy, our food will not be nutrient-rich. If we don’t eat the right food, we become unhealthy. This cyclical process can also be inversed- if our soil is health, our plants are healthy, making our food healthy, thereby keeping us healthy! Remember always, you get what you give.