Soil biome is, if you like, the life blood of our soil. It consists of many millions of microorganisms which contribute to the ecosystem by nutrient recycling and protecting soil structure. It is said that there at least ten different biomes Worldwide. The ten are:
- Tropical Rain Forest
- Tropical Dry Forest
- Temperate Woodland & Shrubland
- Temperate Forest
- North Western Coniferous Forest
- Boreal Forest (Taiga)
Of these ten the main five are considered to be aquatic, grassland, forest, desert and tundra.
Soil microbiome is the combination of beneficial bacteria and fungi. All these microbes living in your soil or under your lawns help to provide nutrients for a healthy growing environment and aid biodiversity. Indeed they are critical as they can help fight stressful times such as drought, pollution and parasites. Healthy soil biomes can help improve nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, help maintain the structure of the soil, stores carbon whilst decomposing organic waste, regulates the flow of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
For us in the UK, we would come under Temperate Forest, specifically temperate deciduous forest. A generalisation of the fact that our climate is fairly stable (so far!) and our forests are mainly broadleaved trees that shed in the autumn, In order to help our soil we then need to explore what our local soil is, albeit in your garden or down at your allotment. Your soil may be:
- clay - improve by adding organic compost, pine bark, composted leaves and gypsum. These will help to lessen drainage and compaction issues. Avoid adding sand or peat moss.
- sand - improve by adding any organic matter, compost and manure (except if growing carrots that season) especially, to boost the soil structure and improve the ability to remain moist.
- silt - improve by forking in 10cm of organic matter, or left on the soil surface in spring or autumn
- loam - improve my adding organic matter, this will improve drainage and provide lots of nutrients for plant growth
- peat - lucky you. this is one of the most fertile of arable soils available, but sadly it is an unsustainable, non renewable resource, hence the need to move across to peat free compost
- chalk - improve by adding well rotted organic matter, garden compost, composted green waste and manure
knowing which one applies to you will allow you to make informed decisions on which plants will suit it and thrive and what you can do to improve your soil.
As you can see from above, the main mantra is to add well rotted compost and manure in most cases.
Growing green manures can also help hugely, sow clover, mustard or any of the others (just search green manure on the website). Grow them on empty plots over winter and then fork in before flowering, early spring. You only need to fork in to the top 5 to 10cm and then let nature do its job.
We hope this blog is useful for you and has helped to simplify the science on this subject.
Happy growing and we will catch up with you further on down the garden path.