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Composting and Mulching to Build Healthy Soils from Scratch

The beginning of a new year and the death and destruction that occurred in 2020 teaches us that life in general goes in cycles. Madam Pele manifests this phenomenon as Kilauea erupts again. With thousands of acres covered with lava in the last few years, it is hard to imagine they will ever support vegetation again at least in our lifetime.

In heavy rainfall regions like Kapoho it only takes a few decades once the lava stops flowing. The process of healing can be more rapid with a little help from humans. Where rainfall is scant, it takes more effort.

Where weather conditions are dry, it is a good to explore ways to conserve water as well. Organic material is essential to healthy growing conditions. Decomposed organic matter helps increase water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil. Rotted material like leaves and clippings used as surface mulch can help conserve moisture and keep unwanted plants under control. Nematodes, those little microscopic worms that feed on plant roots, will do less damage in a high organic soil. Organic matter may also increase the minor element and microbiological activity of a new planting medium.

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