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Improving your soil starts with you! Want to learn about why you feel that improving your soil is out of your reach? Oh and 7 ways to improve your soil? Then this episode is for you!

Quick Links

Time Stamps


You Need to Be Your Own Expert

Conduct a Soil Test

Add Organic Matter

Tips and Tricks

Mulch with Compost

Reduce Soil Compaction

Fertilize with Natural Fertilizers

Grow Cover Crops

Growing with God: Romans 8:12-14

Protect Your Soil Thru the Winter

How I Can Help



As a gardener or even a homesteader, you are the steward of your soil. You understand that caring for your soil is the most important job. And that you should be working daily to feed and nurture it so that it can give you a bountiful harvest. But you also feel lost. Lost in the overwhelm of too much information.

One expert says to do this and another says no do this. And with every blog post or book, you read you feel like you are drowning in indecision. Indecision about what to do first or what your soil even needs. Which in turn makes you feel unqualified.

Unqualified to improve your soil’s health. Unqualified to test your soil. But I am here to tell you, that belief is just a myth. You are the only person qualified to care for your soil. You are the only person your soil needs. You are the expert your soil has been begging for. You just need to see this for yourself.

Do you know why those experts could never be the expert of your soil?

Or why those same experts can’t even answer your soil questions with a straight answer?

It is because they are not growing in your soil. You ARE! They are the experts of the soil that they have been growing in for the last 20 years. Not only do they have completely different soil. They are growing in a different climate, different weather, and have access to different resources than you do. And to tell you the truth those very same experts were in your shoes in the beginning. Do you want to know how I know this? It is because I started asking the same questions you are, right now.

I felt frustrated. I felt discouraged. And it wasn’t until I learned this simple truth, " You needed to combine what the experts are telling you with what your soil is telling you."

You can’t just follow what others are doing just because what they were doing was right for their soil. You need to learn what your soil needs first and then use the practices of others as needed to improve your soil's health.

Now if you want to learn more about my soil story and become the expert of your own soil then you should grab my book, Dirt: Finding the Solution to Building Soil Health. And if you want to learn more about unlocking the secrets your soil can’t wait to tell you then grab my Free Building Soil Health Guide. This guide is designed to empower gardeners to improve their garden's soil health by unlocking 5 secrets of their soil they wished they knew!

Now that I have shared that understanding with you. I want to share a few practices that you can use to improve your soil health. And the first being a Soil Test!

Conduct a Soil Test

A soil test is going to be one of the ways (there are two more) you can use so your soil can start to tell you its secrets.

A soil test can tell you so many things from pH to organic matter content. Both of which are important to understand your soil type and composition. A soil test is also going to share with you what micronutrients your soil has available for your garden plants.

Did you know that there are more than 15 micronutrients that plants need for survival and that most fertilizer companies only concentrate on just 3?

Well, they do! This results in us, the gardener, only focusing on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A soil test is also going to tell what your soil is, what it is made of, and in a nutshell what you are starting with so you will know what to do next.

Now I know you have read this before and have blown it off because you felt you needed to be an expert to do a soil test. That conducting a soil test is hard and way too expensive for a little backyard garden.

Again that is just a myth.

The truth is that a simple and maybe even free test can save you money and is easy to do. You just need the right supplies.

To learn more, grab my Free Building Soil Guide!

Add Organic Matter

Did you know that microorganisms that help your plant gain access to the micronutrients that they need live in the organic matter in your soil or that you add to your soil?

Or that carbon aka organic matter is the largest nutrient your plants need to grow?

A Lot of us fall for the myth that the only answer to improving our soil is to add fertilizers. Our plants need them so that should fix everything, right?


The truth is that all of those fertilizers will just sit in the soil without the help of the microorganisms that are found in organic matter. It is their job to break them down so that if our plants need them they can access them. Also, most nutrients your plants need can already be found in your soil or can be derived from organic matter, to begin with. And adding fertilizer to your soil you may be overloading a very delicate system.

That is why it is important to first do a soil test as I suggested above. Because it can even show you the levels of organic matter in your soil. And second, do a decomposition test. This is a very simple test and I walk through the steps in my eBook.

A decomposition test will check the health of the microorganisms and shows if they are happy and living their best life. Like, do they have enough fuel, undecomposed organic matter, to break down nutrients for your plants. Do they also have enough shelter, decomposed organic matter to live and multiply?

Your soil is the biggest ecosystem on the planet and you have to feed every part of it. Not just the plants!

Mulch with Compost

Compost is the best organic matter you can add to your soil. And when you add it as a layer on the top of your soil you are doing two things. Protecting your soil and feeding your soil. I have already explained why adding organic matter is important when feeding soil so let's talk about the protection.

Your soil is an ecosystem but it is also a delicate system that needs protection from the elements like wind, rain, sun, and cold temperatures(winter-see below for details). I think if you think of it this way you can see why protection is so important. Think of yourself as a tiny microorganism and you live in a little house with no roof. How do you think you would feel if it started raining right now with nothing to protect you. No plants are growing above you. You are just exposed to the elements just like our garden soil is. Let’s see, would your house be flooded and would some of it be drifting away right now. Because maybe you have little organic matter to hold it together and next you have nothing to lessen the impact the rain can have on bare soil.

What about if the rain stopped and now the sun is shining but it is not just shining it is hot, burning scorching the top layer of your house. Your house now is the hottest place on earth. I could go further and talk about wind and cold. But I think you see the point I am trying to make. Our God designed this earth to be covered so that it would be protected. He gave it the plants to help hold that soil together and decomposed plants to give the soil a roof. And we as gardeners need to do this in our garden. Now I know in the middle of the growing season this is not much of a problem but what about in the offseason. When you have stripped and cleaned your garden up for the fall?

Most leave the garden to fend for itself. And this results in the Lord covering up the soil with plants, unwanted plants, like weeds. But most of us don’t like it when weeds grow in our garden. So you do everything you can to not let that happen and the soil is left bare. But compost can solve all of this because it is the second way that God covers the soil, with decomposed plants.

And if you use compost as a mulch in a no-till system you can also help with the next way to improve your soil, compaction.

Reduce Soil Compaction

Compaction of the soil is when the soil is compressed tightly and has very few pockets for water and air. Now, this can cause problems for your plants in two ways. First, the plants use these pockets of water and air to move their roots through the soil. And a plant that can't move its roots freely through the soil can become root-bound. This is when the plant's roots circle back on themselves and are not able to gather many nutrients for themselves.

Second, those same air and water pockets are used by the worms and microorganisms of the soil. They use them to breathe as well as move through the soil. And as I stated above unhappy organisms lead to unhappy soil and plants.

Fertilize with Natural Ingredients

I do want to state again that fertilizer should not be your first resort when trying to improve your soil. But if your soil test says that you are very deficient, use them. But be sure you are using natural ingredients. You are properly asking, " why I didn’t say organic fertilizer?" Well, the reason is that the word organic means “from plants''. And it is important that you use mineral-type fertilizers as well.

Natural fertilizers are attended for slow release. Meaning that they will take time and the help of the microorganisms to be accessible for your plants. It is easy to want to fix your soil problems quickly but that is just not how this ecosystem works. It needs time to improve itself. And that is why Fall is the best time to add fertilization! The next best time is now!

Grow Cover Crops

Remember how I mentioned before that God designed the earth to cover itself. Well, cover crops are a great way to do just that and grow something that we know will improve our soil.

Weeds will rob our soil of nutrients but cover crops are designed to hold those nutrients in place. And if you use cover crops that are nitrogen fixers then they can even add nutrients to the soil.

If you would like to learn even more about cover crops and which are right for you then you need to check out the Soil Is Your Foundation Master Class. To learn more go to the online courses page in the menu above!

Protect Soil thru the Winter

Now cover crops are a perfect solution to protecting your soil through the winter also. But so can mulch and tarps. You can use anything but just be sure that you do something. When we leave the soil exposed to the elements in the winter we slow that decomposition process and leave it to the harsh temperatures. I explained above that our soil needs a roof to protect its delicate ecosystem. This happens naturally in nature. In a forest, the fall leaves fall and cover the soil before winter starts. And in a prairie, the Fall winds lay down the grass to do the same.

But in our garden, we as gardeners don’t let this happen and thus leave our soil unprotected.

You can cover soil by using cover crops but you do need to think ahead to what you are planning to plant in each bed next spring. Because let me tell you from experience you do not want to be dealing with a no-kill winter cover crop growing where you hope to grow your spring peas next year. It is a muddy mess trying to remove a cover crop in the early spring.

Oh, did you not know that you can plan specific cover crops that will grow in the fall, die throughout the winter, cover the soil, and then leave the soil ready to plant in the spring? Again you can learn so much in my Soil Is Your Foundation Master Class.

Well, I want to thank you for joining me today. I hope that I have helped you see that caring for your soil starts with you and how you see yourself. Now go out there and be the expert your soil has been waiting for you to be!

Have a blessed day,


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