What is organic matter and how do I make it?
Organic matter can be anything from aged bark, food waste decomposed, broken down leaves, lawn clippings, mostly known as compost though it can be argued that they are two different things.
Compost is a great way to keep trash out of landfills and add nutrients to your gardens absolutely free. It is easy to make (fair warning it has a strong odour, so ideally best kept outdoors), simply grab a container that can be sealed. Add scraps of food, dried leaves, lawn clippings and more. What you put in it will determine the size.
How can you tell if your soil is ready?
Soil test- outdoor garden
On a day that is relevantly dry try this to see what type of soil you have
- Dig a hole (approx. 30cm) where you want to plant
- Pour water (approx. 700mls) in the hole
- If the water soaks right into the ground it’s sandy soil, if it takes an hour it’s normal, if it doesn’t soak it’s most likely clay and you will need to break this down more and add a blend of topsoil, organic matter and compost.
Garden beds – preparing the outdoor vegetable area
The best time to start gardening is at the end of winter as the temperatures slowly warm up. It shouldn’t be too hot or cold. Fortunately, with Australia’s climate conditions mostly being warm it can be an all-year-round activity, with a few exceptions.
To get this area ready
- Loosen soil, 15-30cm deep with a pitchfork
- Remove weeds, rocks and old plants and routes from the patch so it doesn’t compete with your new plants
- Add nutrients, this could be compost 5-8 cm deep across the garden bed. To get the organic matter back into the soil, worm castings are also a great source of nitrogen. You can also add 3-inches of mulch around the plants to blanket the topsoil and keep it warm
- Cover garden to warm it and protect from rain, or cold (for cold climates)