A description of the many plant-based techniques that are used to maintain soil fertility.
In veganic agriculture, fertility is maintained without the use of chemical fertilizers or animal products. Instead, veganic agriculture favors good soil stewardship, biodiversity, plant-based fertility (compost, mulch, chipped branch wood, green manures), and mineral supplements if needed. Veganic aims for a closed system, striving to maintain fertility using the materials available on the farmland.
Green manures are grown in order to be cut down and buried. They can act as a source of fertilizer, bringing nitrogen and biomass to the soil, while also improving soil structure and retaining existing soil nutrients.
Mulches are materials that cover the ground, much like layers of leaves on the forest floor. Mulches improve water retention, reduce erosion, moderate the temperature of the soil, reduce competition from weeds, and bring added nutrients to the soil while also helping to retain existing nutrients.
You can grow your own fertilizer with living mulches. Living plants used as mulches have an advantage over dead mulches, such as straw and hay. They affect soils both above and below the ground. They grow with and around main crops and are usually green, succulent, and full of nutrients, with a well-developed root system. This root system works its way into the earth, opens up the soil, and feeds the soil food web all season long if living mulches are managed properly.
With this incredibly simple technique, you can prepare a new no-till garden with few materials, while improving the quality of your soil for future years. Or, in an existing garden, it’s a simple and low-maintenance way of growing potatoes.