Garden Soil Versus Midwest Weather

Garden Soil Versus Midwest Weather
In the Midwest of the United State, garden soil has little or no sand. Each year the rainy spring cause the soil to compact and the hot summer cause the soil to crack. I have found adding plant material to the garden helps offset the unwanted soil conditions.

Plant material in garden
Both plant material and decaying plant material is used in my home vegetable garden. For my garden, items made from plants such as paper, cardboard, and lumber are cut up and used. In addition my source of plant material is the Privet hedge.

Compared to other hedge bushes the Privet hedge is inexpensive. By the first of June the hedge has a new growth of one half foot to a foot. I trim the new growth and use the cuttings in the garden. After the June rains I trim the hedge a second time. It's easy to have an increasing supply of cuttings by starting new bushes from the established hedge.

The privet hedge will grow new shrubs. After the shrubs reach two to three feet in height I transplant them. To do this, I dig down 2 to 3 inches and cut the connection to the established bush and then plant the new shrub in a different location. It's best to transplant in early spring, but I have successfully started new bushes during the summer and fall. I have observed the new Privet hedge bush prefers the light, but will grow in shade.

Hedge clippings for top of soil
I add hedge clippings to the top of the soil during the growing season as the plants are reaching their full height. For vines I add clippings before the crawlers start.

Hedge cuttings put on top of the soil keep tomatoes from touching the soil and the tomato bottom will not rot while ripening. My cucumbers and muskmelons ripen better when growing on plant material. Since sunlight doesn't reach the surface of the soil, I see little cracking of the soil during the hot days of July and August.

Hedge clippings for root air pockets
At the end of the garden season, I dig up the garden and add clippings under the soil. By doing this the clippings make air passages so the needed oxygen can reach the next year's new roots. This also will start the decaying to compost process and nutrients are added to the soil.
I also aerate the soil by adding worms. In the area I live, during the spring, worms are sold as fishing bait. I purchase these and release them in my garden.

Hedge clippings for fertilizer
I help the hedge clipping start the decay process and then the clippings turn into compost. The compost is used in place of fertilizer.

A simply way to make compost is to put clippings into plastic garbage bags. Start by adding 1/2 foot of clippings to the empty garbage bag. Then sprinkle on top a liter of garden soil and add a 1/2 liter of water. Continue adding 1/2 foot of clipping, soil, and water until bag is almost full. Then tie bag closed and leave sit for 2 months. The clippings will start the decaying to compost process. At any time after the decaying process starts I use the compost in place of fertilizer.

Each spring I add the compost, by putting it on top of the garden before the planting of the seeds and vegetable plants. Also I find it helps to add compost after the plants growth is completed and before the plant's production of edible food starts.