Preparation and maintenance of the land to cultivate an organic garden

For an organic cultivation these will be rules to take into account:
– Do not disinfect the soil before converting to organic production.
– Use the least possible mechanical implements, to avoid compaction. Try to have a vertical action and avoid turning over 20 cm, so as not to mix the profiles of the earth, since otherwise the organic matter will decompose deeply anaerobically (without the presence of oxygen), the nutrients are removed from the soil. the roots having to go deeper and the microfauna is changed. Preferably use the cultivator to the milling machine, or a rototiller in smaller orchards.
– Work the soil in season or season, that is, with sufficient humidity to allow the work to be carried out easily. If they are made with dry earth, it is crumbled and with excess moisture cements the earth, leaving it hard and compact, in addition to working more in both states. Therefore before a job we will check the state of the land, if it has excess humidity we will wait, on the other hand if it is dry we will give an irrigation 24 hours in advance.
– By reducing our actions in the soil, we seek a greater diversity of microfauna, mesofauna and worms that will favor the fertility of the soil and appreciate that they are as little disturbed as possible.

Fall / winter work

They will be held from October or November until February.
The optimal state of the soil for these tasks is with a humidity higher than temperature, to obtain compact earth prisms, which can suffer winter weathering without risk of erosion.
The purpose of these tasks are:
– Eliminate adventitious herbs born from the previous harvest.
– Incorporate remains of crops or stubble for decomposition.
– Give more aeration to the land.
– Penetration of rain and ice during winter.
– Incorporate subscribers whose action is long-term.
– Have a good structure to prepare the seedbed in spring.

Immediate preparation tasks

They will normally be carried out from March, except for winter crops where preparation will be carried out as appropriate.
The main objective of these tasks is to prepare the land in such a way that it is ready to receive the plant or the seed, as the case may be, at the expense of the specific and specific introduction of the species. Normally these tasks will tend to break up the soil into small aggregates that receive the seed or plant well for their germination or growth.
The preparation of the land suitable for our case will be conditioned or advised by:
– The irrigation system that we have.
– The plants that we are going to grow.
– The machinery available.
– The leveling of the land and its relationship with irrigation.


In AE what is intended is a rational fertilization, a rich and fertile soil in the long term, looking for the best state of the soil for the correct nutrition of the plants.
Different techniques used in fertilization:
Organic fertilizer .
Originated from decomposed organic matter. In addition to providing nutrients, the structure is improved
from the earth.
Manure, compost, green manures, worm castings.
Mineral fertilizer .
It is applied as a complement when a contribution of: sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium or potassium is necessary.
They are obtained from natural minerals rich in nutritional elements.
Calcareous algae, wood ash, powdered rocks …
But with care in their use, since many of them need recognized by the control body or the control authority.
Living organisms .
Capable of decomposing organic matter, fixing nitrogen or solubilizing minerals
It is the product of the decomposition of organic matter (coming from our garden or other activities) carried out by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen.
It is used as:
– Fertilizer for its contribution of nutrients and organic matter.
– Soil improver as it slows down erosion, helps to retain water and minerals, improves soil structure, prevents crust formation and facilitates aeration of the roots, improves texture and facilitates tillage.
– Helps to control the production of waste, so we can take advantage of organic matter waste to convert it into useful products
The materials to make the compost can be:
—Green or wet materials.
They provide nitrogen. Manure, plant debris, etc.
– Brown or dry materials.
They provide carbon. Dry leaves (except walnut, act as an antibiotic), branches, cardboard, etc.
Green manures
It is the use of fast vegetation crops, which are cut and deposited in the same place where they have been sown to improve the fertility and structure of the soil by increasing organic matter, also avoiding erosion. The cut will usually be made at the time of flowering as they will have more nutrients.
The crops used will accumulate mineral elements absorbed from the earth in their tissues, but when they decompose once cut, they return to the earth, in many cases assimilable, without being so before.
The mechanical action of the roots improves the physical state of the earth, increasing its permeability, cohesion and establishment of the fauna.
We let them die where they developed, and so they continue to improve the structure of the soil.
The roots are left in the ground, while the stems and leaves decompose on the ground and not within it.
When cutting the plants it is advisable to let some of them continue to grow, to improve the action of the micro and macro organisms. Microorganisms sponge and increase soil, in addition to synthesizing minerals.
Macroorganisms increase organic matter.
When the vegetal remains finish their decomposition on the ground, humus is formed, which is what will give the soil long-term fertility, with an adequate carbon / nitrogen ratio.
Choice of varieties:
– Vivacious plants will have the problem that they will sprout again, however annual plants, in addition to developing their root system before, will not sprout.
– Plants with fleshy roots, are used in very compacted and hard soils, unpacking the ground. They will not have a great development of the aerial part, but they will provide nutrients since many will be “broken” by the compaction of the earth.
– Legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen through their root nodules. Alfalfa, broad bean, vetch, etc.
– The grasses improve the structure of the soil thanks to their numerous roots, in addition to providing phosphorus. Oats, barley, rye, etc.
– Crucifers have a very deep root system and health effects, they grow very fast, even in two months we can have the fertilizer ready. White mustard, fodder radish.
– Depending on the climate, radishes or forage carrots can be used in early spring, and in climates with very cold winters like ours, rapeseed, vetches or oats can be sown in autumn.
– Depending on the type of soil we have: Sugar beets will do better in sandy soils, but without low pH. In poor lands, it is better to use plants from the cruciferous family as they can grow on poor humus lands.
– If it is a field with a lot of adventitious grasses, the rye suffocates them. It is sown in autumn, until spring it is not cut, and 2 weeks later it is cultivated.
– The facellia, which belongs to the hydrophilic family, among its benefits produces a decrease in nematodes and many other parasites.
A good option is to associate species from different families, to avoid monoculture, we will also have different contributions.
Worm humus or vermicompost
Vermicompost is a composting technique, in which the worms are in charge of transforming the organic waste they ingest into a usable product from their droppings.
The worms generate a biologically active humus rich in microbial flora, improving soil fertility. Another of its properties is that it improves the structure of the earth, gives oxygenation and creates drainage channels. Therefore, if we see any worms in our garden, we will let them continue to carry out their beneficial work.
Vermicompost is an organic fertilizer. It enriches with a high enzymatic and microbial load that increases the solubilization of nutrients, making them immediately assimilable, in addition to protecting plants from pathogenic bacteria and nematodes. It is very rich in trace elements, as well as containing substances that regulate growth and promote the vital functions of plants. Its pH is neutral, so it does not harm plants.
Its application can be from the transplant, to help the plant in its first phases as in periodic applications.
Wood ash
They provide potassium, in different proportions depending on the type of tree, 8% that of beech to 30% that of broom.
Potassium in plants favors the development of roots and tubers, increases the resistance of plants to ice, drought and attacks by parasites. There will be greater deficiencies in sandy soils, in fruit trees and vegetables that are very demanding of these nutrients, in the rest of the cases it will be enough with the contributions of manure or compost.
The ash mixes with the soil where we are going to sow, it also has a preventive action against cryptogamic diseases.
In clay soil, it is not advisable to spread the ashes on the surface as it negatively affects the structure.
Didactic notebooks Dip. from Valladolid

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