The most important thing for all life is the soil. Soil consists of mainly 4 parts, organic matter, minerals, water and air and it is from this that all land living creatures are sustained. I try to keep all growing areas in my garden covered with mulch, usually collected from where ever I can find it on the property. Imported mulch from elsewhere can introduced unwanted seed and contamination from herbicide drift or use. Mulch not only increases the organic content of the soil but protects the top soil from heavy rain, as we have on a regular basis, or burning sunlight. The intense heat over the last few days has seen some casualties in the garden, tamarillos(tree tomatoes) burnt off, monarch butterfly caterpillars dead on the cotton plants and new leaves on many vegetables burnt brown.
When I harvest vegetables for the table I leave what is not readily edible in the garden, cover with comfrey or lemon grass clippings or leaves collected from surrounding areas. I plant a variety of cover crops. Nitrogen fixers ( legumes) are planted where I am planning to plant corn and all other heavy feeders. Mustard seed is scattered on newly harvested soil. I turn the cover crop into the soil before flowering. After a while, simply by looking at the surrounding growth I can tell if the soil is needing extra attention and when in doubt of the ph I soil test to get an accurate reading from which I can remedy. Dolomite and agricultural lime applied if the reading shows the soil becoming too acidic, as is usual in high rain fall areas. Usually 3 weeks passes before I will consider planting either seeds or seedlings into lime dressed plots.I have never had to remedy an alkali reading in any of my many growing plots. Yearly ph readings usually keep me well informed on what is needed. All urine is collected and diluted before watering it into the garden plots. Citrus trees love being urinated around. Comfrey leaf teas and other leaves make proven liquid fertilisers. (Comfrey leaf, packed into a container and covered with water, stir once a week and when the liquid resembles dark green fertiliser and smells like nothing you have smelt before it is ready. Dilute 10 to one and feed young plants).
Australian top soil is relatively shallow and all the protection we can give it is probably still not enough. But as I observe the healthy structure and life that lives in the soil I know the garden has achieved a balance to the conditions here.