Bad Soil Is Not A Problem, Or How I Grow Vegetables In Grass. The Advantages Of Raised Beds. Photo

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Bad Soil Is Not A Problem, Or How I Grow Vegetables In Grass. The Advantages Of Raised Beds. Photo
Bad Soil Is Not A Problem, Or How I Grow Vegetables In Grass. The Advantages Of Raised Beds. Photo

Video: Bad Soil Is Not A Problem, Or How I Grow Vegetables In Grass. The Advantages Of Raised Beds. Photo

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Video: The Problem with TOO MUCH Compost 2023, January

How many people dream of the land "stick a stick - it will grow", envying the Ukrainian black soil! And they buy this black soil by machines for their plots in the hope that now everything will definitely change. I hasten to disappoint - the soil called "Ukrainian black soil" will not exist! It is very dependent on the mainland, calcium-rich rock, on the amount of precipitation, on growing vegetation and the community of soil animals. This is called the smart word "biogeocenosis". You cannot buy everything together. It's easier to move to a Ukrainian village for permanent residence.

Bad Soil Isn't a Problem or How I Grow Vegetables in Grass
Bad Soil Isn't a Problem or How I Grow Vegetables in Grass

But there is no need to be upset, since black soil, with all its wonderful properties, is not the most important component of fertility. And you can perfectly "get along" with almost any soil that you got on the site. Don't believe me? I will try to convince you.


  • Why desert Israel is a paradise for agriculture
  • How we traditionally improve the soil
  • What soil did I get
  • How I make raised beds
  • All the grass is in the beds!
  • Benefits of raised grass beds

Why desert Israel is a paradise for agriculture

Several years ago we went to Israel to visit my husband's relatives. In Beer Sheva, in the north of the Negev Desert, which, incidentally, occupies 60% of Israel's territory.

In one of the garden centers of the city, watching the transplanting of plants into separate containers with an unsightly mixture of sand, perlite and something remotely reminiscent of peat, I sincerely and aloud regretted the unfortunate plants. The worker conducting this procedure responded to my complaints in Russian.

Russian, originally from the Ukrainian village, where "stick a stick - it grows" and those very black soil. She says that at first she cried over the local "land", wanted to give up everything and leave. This is even in the garden center, peat or Finnish humus is added to the pots, and street plants generally sit in the sand! Then I looked closely at how it all grows, blossoms and bears fruit, wiped away my tears and stayed to work.

Everyone has probably seen greens, sweet peppers, avocados from Israel at exorbitant prices in supermarkets in winter. Despite the fact that with water there is not just bad, but terrible: for irrigation, only water from the sewer system can be used, which has passed the treatment plant repeatedly. Or desalinated, but it's expensive. The invention of drip irrigation is not from a good life!

In Israel - high-tech agriculture: drip irrigation, metered, along with irrigation, fertilizing, shading shelters, greenhouses, mulching, insect and bird nets, and the like. All of this, for the most part, is in the very Negev.

This I mean that a good result can be obtained on any soil. Even without it, you can get - hydroponics and aeroponics are additional confirmation of this.

This means that efficiency comes first - the amount of labor and resources spent per kilogram of, say, tomatoes. What is needed is not black earth, by itself, but to work less: water, feed, weed weeds. And so that tomatoes - buckets! By the way, about reducing weeds, black soil is not an assistant, but quite the opposite.

Actually, black soil solves only the problems of feeding and looseness, and even then for a while. Is it worth buying it for a lot of money if watering does not decrease, the number of weeds increases, nutrients and structure will disappear in a year or two? Here everyone decides for himself.

You can go in other ways, they, as everywhere and in everything, are many and they are different. But first you need to understand what we are dealing with.

Drip irrigation in Israeli streets
Drip irrigation in Israeli streets

How we traditionally improve the soil

Conditions in all plots, even neighboring ones, are different - the same "biogeocenoses". The best option is middling. Not clay, not sand, not pure humus, but a mixture of them. At the same time, not acidic, not calcareous soil, but neutral. Not wet, not dry, but evenly moisturized. Preferably lit by the sun in the morning.

But such happiness is very little and not enough for everyone. It means that you need to create happiness for yourself. You can use heroic efforts to drain a wet area, shoveling tons of soil and laying drainage, which will need to be cleaned regularly. Or you can plant birches around the perimeter, and then you will have to deal with drought.

In an arid area, you can organize drip irrigation, or an automatic traditional irrigation system. Or making a pond is a design decision. Well, the watering can, again.

Clay can be mixed with imported sand (and sand - with clay soil), peat - with lime, lime soil - with peat. And update it all regularly.

And the most traditional option is to bring in soil, make beds, flower beds, every year to bring manure, compost, peat for digging - whatever you can buy. Or, what will be the most advertised at this moment.

Only it seems to me that all this is very laborious. Although, the sweeter your tomato will be …

In a dry area, you can make a pond
In a dry area, you can make a pond

What soil did I get

As an example of a more lazy, environmentally friendly and economical in time and cost, I can cite my experience. The techniques were tested in two regions: Khabarovsk Territory and Kuban.

Conditions: in the first case - dry, dense loam with a neutral reaction, moreover, dry, poor and shaded for most of the day due to poplars growing along the perimeter of the site. The introduction of manure, peat only improved their (poplars) well-being, having little effect on the plants cultivated under them. It was impossible to cut it down - municipal property. The growing season in the region is 5 months, the rest, almost without transition, is a very cold winter.

In the second case, the foothills of the Caucasus. Valley of a small river with a transition to the mountains. Mountains are very conditional, there are more than 400 meters of them here and there are none. But the slope is there.

The soil is red clay, with areas of blue and with a thin layer of humus, 5-10 centimeters. Not everywhere, however, in some places even that is not. Weakly acidic. On the slope - very dry in summer and moderately humid in winter, on the flat part - oversaturated with moisture in winter, dry in summer. There is where to turn around with experiments! The growing season is 9 months, the winter is very wet, the water is on this clay.

With the beginning of the growing season, the lush local vegetation "gulps" all the water reserves in a month and the dry heat begins. As a bonus, since the foothills and wooded areas, there are day-night temperature drops of 10-15-20 degrees.

Managing in the Khabarovsk Territory with all the experiments carried out there turned out to be a wonderful experience for settling in a new place, despite the difference in conditions. The needs of plants are the same everywhere.

Global geological surveys are not my type. I took an unconventional path.

Our site in the Khabarovsk Territory, which has been cultivated for more than 30 years, in June
Our site in the Khabarovsk Territory, which has been cultivated for more than 30 years, in June

How I make raised beds

A “long-lasting” and versatile way of growing vegetables on any soil is raised fenced beds with the required content. For example: I mow the grass in a selected area, my husband fences it, makes a box. We prefer boards, but this is a matter of taste and availability of materials - metal, wood, plastic, flat slate, brick - whoever likes what. I also, it happens, put a stone around. But with a stone - for ornamental plants and strawberries. Some wattle weaves like a basket.

I cover the bottom of the box with cardboard or old cotton clothes, or Kraft paper so that perennial weeds will die there safely, turning into fertilizer. At the same time it will be warmer, moisture will condense, worms will run in and the process will go more fun. You can still use old magazines, newspapers in a thick layer. With this gasket, you can adjust the water permeability: for sand - thicker, and even make the sides.

Then there is a layer of drainage - all the garbage that is at our disposal: small twigs, chips, dry plant stems mixed with foliage, grass, nutshells. And also broken brick (to beat smaller), rubble, requisitioned from the dog in a timely manner unburied bones. This layer can be quite thick - in a greenhouse, for example, 40 centimeters.

Since this is all done, as a rule, in the fall, it is additionally generously covered with foliage and all sorts of plant residues. And on top, in some cases, a thin layer of earth - here you can be creative by combining clay, sand, compost. I don't bother, I pour my clay, 10 centimeters.

Before planting begins, it will be partially washed out and go into the lower layers. For sweet potatoes, melons, pumpkins, corn and beans - no land, just heaps of cut grass. In the same place (interlayer) - kitchen waste, fermented with "Baikal EM". While it's warm, let the microorganisms work.

Since we have our own house, and the water heating is mounted from a wood-burning boiler, the ash goes to the beds, under the trees, under the roses (oh, how they love ash and gratefully respond to it!), Under strawberries throughout the heating season.

We make a box for a high bed from boards
We make a box for a high bed from boards

All the grass is in the beds

And then it is even simpler: in the spring with the first mowing, and our grass grows to the main plantings, everything that is mown is placed in the beds and spilled by "Baikal EM". Microorganisms begin to work, worms under the litter set demographic records, processing the soil into useful coprolites, mixing and loosening the layers.

True, a mole immediately appears here, stunned by so much food. I try to be friends with the mole: he digs passages in this terrible clay, throwing clean, loose soil without weed seeds to the surface, where I collect it and use it for seedlings, for a greenhouse, for new plantings. In addition, it quite effectively destroys a bear, beetles, slugs, all sorts of larvae. He does not eat vegetables and roots, if he dug something necessary, you can simply tamp this earth and water it.

In the spring, I plant small seeds in the "paths" of the mole ground poured on the grassed grass, I simply stick the large ones into the grass, stuff the potatoes under the layer of grass, plant the seedlings, raking a hole in the grass. I immediately mulch all young plants with mown grass. We mow 17 acres of our own, 4 acres of a neighboring abandoned plot. Even with 4-5 mows, the grass is not enough for everyone.

In the spring, with the first mowing, everything that is mowed is placed in the beds and spilled by "Baikal EM"
In the spring, with the first mowing, everything that is mowed is placed in the beds and spilled by "Baikal EM"

Benefits of raised grass beds

The obvious advantages of this method:

  • since the composition of the garden is formed artificially, it is not so important on what soil it stands;
  • the structure of the bed is loose enough for the comfortable development of both tubers and root crops, and indeed for all plant roots;
  • significant savings on irrigation - a thick layer of grass mulch will condense the evaporating soil moisture under it, collect the morning dew and save moisture from heat and weathering.
  • weeds germinate only very malicious;
  • the issue of feeding the plants is being resolved: the very effective microorganisms from "Baikal EM", starving in a bottle, attack the abundance of organic matter and start using it in every way, releasing nutrients that are easily digestible for plants as by-products.
  • not enough, their orgies are accompanied by the release of heat, which speeds up the process, simultaneously warming the roots of plants and stimulating the worms to even more active reproduction (after all, they not only reproduce with a shovel, but also know how to do it differently!);
  • in the spring, the bed warms up faster;
  • Once created, a garden bed works for many years if it is regularly replenished with cut grass, kitchen waste with effective microorganisms, and sprinkled with ash.

The obvious disadvantage is that you need a lot of grass. But for us this is not a minus.

This is a really lazy purely organic option. Such an agrotechnical technique as loosening is not needed at all. Most of the work to create a loose and fertile soil will be done by soil dwellers. Microorganisms, processing organic matter, nourish plants, warm the roots with them. Earthworms loosen the soil, mix its layers, enrich it with their waste, permeate the soil with a system of passages (many others help them in this - larvae, crustaceans, ants, leafhoppers, etc.), saturating it with air and condensed moisture. For vegetable plants, this option is more than enough. They are comfortable.

We are managing the third summer in the Kuban. No manure, classic compost, mineral fertilizing. The harvest is fine. The place for sweet potatoes and potatoes was chosen where there is water in winter. But the beds are raised, and even the potatoes remaining in the ground do not rot, but sprout in the spring. Carrots, celery grow in the driest zone, they are covered with a thick layer of grass and do not suffer much even with minimal watering.

The idea of ​​growing vegetables on the grass, under the grass and in the grass is frightening at first, until you feel the naturalness of the process: in nature, after all, everything happens that way. With the obligatory participation of all soil living creatures: from bacteria and fungi to moles and toads. Each of them makes their own contribution.

Traditional soil cultivation with digging, loosening, top dressing, fighting everyone whom we consider to be pests destroys the biocenoses that have been created for centuries. Besides, it requires a lot of labor and resources.

The separation of a living organism from its natural environment is not beneficial and even quite the opposite. It is better to live in harmony with the surrounding biocenosis. After all, we naively believe that we know everything about him, and, showing adolescent maximalism, divide into useful and harmful.

And if we evaluate it by the degree of harm, then for nature there is no one more harmful than man. At the same time, there is somehow very little benefit. Therefore, I want to at least minimize the harm.

The consumer attitude is killing the soil. Throughout the history of agriculture, as a result of improper use of soils, about 2 billion hectares of productive land have been lost, they have turned into deserts and "bad lands" on which nothing really grows. This is more than the entire area of ​​modern agriculture (1.5 billion hectares). Very sad statistics.

Of course, gardeners and summer residents do not cause such global harm as industrial agriculture with their activities. But it's better to be useful. To yourself. To my family. To my garden. And there, you see, we'll get into the taste.

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