Fall's Dilemma: Soil Nutrient Depletion

by Mike Usry October 06, 2016


The summer days have been long and hot, but incredibly worth the labor. Your garden has provided you with an ample bounty of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and a plethora of other summer gardening delights. As we turn into fall, and the summer plants begin to wind down, we turn our attention to the next phase - the "turn in" or winter preparation.

It is during this stage of garden life that we remove all of the old vines, plant matter, and debris. Soon leaves start to pile up, and our gardens become cluttered. During this period, the average gardener focuses on tidiness but often makes one huge mistake - failure to feed the soil! The result is nutrient depletion.

The excellent crops that provided summer's bounty also take a heavy toll on the chemistry and structure of the garden soil, as the plants and crops grow they devour valuable nutrients and take the soil's energy and creating a bad situation with soil depletion. At the end of the summer growing season, we are left with tired, depleted soils. And of course, weak soils produce poor yields.

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To the novice the answer to the problem might be simple- heap generous amounts of synthetic fertilizers and voila - problem solved. This poor and uneducated notion could not be further from the truth. In many cases adding such an unstable and temporary fix results in weaker soils that are higher in salinity and full of excessive and imbalanced nutrients. These imbalances cause an onslaught of harmful nematodes and other undesirable issues. The result is a perfect storm of pestilence and disease for next year's crops.

We have been blindly trained to focus replenishment efforts solely on the macronutrients of Nitrogen - Phosphorus - Potassium. N-P-K represents the three numbers on the sides of fertilizers bags. While the macronutrients are essential, they are vastly over-emphasized and simplified. A soil’s fertility is complex, and deficiencies may be difficult to determine. Heavily fertilized soils may be temporarily rich in N-P-K, but destitute in microorganisms and trace minerals. This mishap creates an improper balance and an even worse case of soil nutrient depletion.

The absolute best thing you can do for your future gardening efforts is to replenish the carbon and organic matter in your gardens. Carbon is THE essential element. It is critical for living microbes to survive and thrive, then used and returned to the soil through organic matter.

Nutrient DepletionFortunately, nature provides us a beautiful cycle just when we need it. Remember all of the grass clippings, weed piles, and vegetable scraps? These items are perfect for compost and food for the soil. Additionally, when the leaves begin to descend upon the ground, we are provided with more organic matter to compost and incorporate thus breaking the cycle of soil depletion. With this blessing, the soil microbes can leverage our organic inputs to transform the soils elements into plant ready food.

This cycle is the reason for our phase three products, Garden Ignition and Turf Revival. These organic products replenish and rejuvenate tired soils and pack a punch with a wealth of the right microbiology at the right time for maximum restoration of soil nutrient depletion.

Don't make the mistake of pruning, cleaning and discarding this fall. Use what nature has provided and make your gardens vibrant and healthy. Happy fall!

Mike Usry
Mike Usry


Mike is the founder of Southland Organics. He is an avid gardner and leads his family in a sustainable lifestyle. Mike holds his degree from the University of Georgia and his MBA from the University of South Florida.

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