Garden / June 22, 2018 /
Fertile soil that retains nutrients and water is one of the keys to success with intensive planting, which is a fancy way of saying planting a lot in a little area. America’s intensive-growing tradition has two fathers: John Jeavons and Mel Bartholomew. In his classic 1974 book, How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, Jeavons introduced Americans to French intensive-gardening techniques, notably deep soil preparation through double-dug beds and intensive crop-planting patterns. Seven years later, Bartholomew offered a new way to think about these patterns in a classic book of his own
The ideal soil type for growing most crops is loam, the rich halfway point between clay and sandy soils. If you are not sure which soil type you have, hold some in the palm of your hand, wet it and try to make a ball. If it forms a tight, hard wad, then you have lots of clay in your soil. If you can not form a ball, you have sand. If the ball forms but pretty easily breaks apart, you probably have loam. No matter which type you have, you can improve both your soils structure and fertility by working compost into the top layer each year. Those with really limited space can take heart in knowing there are effective composting options suitable for even the smallest of spaces.