Building Healthy Soil

Katie speaking at healthy soil workshop

Soil test at home are an easy way to test your soilHealthy soil is the basis for healthy food production, and acts as the immune system of your garden. This practical half-day workshop will introduce you to the billions of underground microorganisms that help to turn plain old dirt into fertile soil. Plus, you’ll learn some simple tests to do in your own garden to find out more about your soil, so be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Lack of fertility in the soil is one of the common reasons for problems in the garden, and on top of that, a lot of fertilisers and chemicals that are used on soil just make the problem worse! Learning to understand that soil is a living, thriving, teeming ecosystem will change the way you garden and help you build a solid foundation for everything you grow

Using an auger to get a soil smaple and test for soil healthThis workshop covers the theory of soil structure, and will introduce you to the fungi, bacteria, and other organisms that live in healthy soil, and their important roles in helping your plants grow. During the second part of the workshop you'll learn and practice some simple soil tests to do on your own soil.

The workshop is taught by Katie, whose studies in science and permaculture (as well as digging many a thousand holes in the soil at Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens) have given her a keen appreciation of the amazing web of life under our feet!



Healthy soil needs ground cover

By the end of this workshop you’ll understand how to build healthy soil that will form the foundation for all your future organic gardening.

"Pragmatic, concise information-not so mind boggling. Thanks Katie-fabulous!"
Anna Winneke, Maldon

Who is this workshop for?

  • People who are interested in gardening
  • People who are already growing, or wanting to grow, their own fruit or vegetables
  • People who are renting houses with fruit trees or gardens in the backyard
  • People who look after fruit trees or gardens in the community
  • People who are interested in permaculture, organics, growing their own food, or food security
  • People who already grow, or are interested in growing, food commercially

What does this workshop cover?

  • Theory of soil structure
  • Soil microbes - the different types, what they do, and how they are connected to one another
  • Simple soil tests to do at home
  • The relationship between healthy soil and healthy plants>
  • Lab soil tests – do you need them, how do you get them, how much do they cost?
  • Organic matter and carbon – why is it so important, where do you get it?
  • How chemicals and fertilisers can damage your soil
  • Ways to build healthy soil that don't cost the earth

What’s provided?

  • Soil testing equipment
  • Workshop notes will be emailed to you after the workshop

What you need to bring:

  • Some soil from your backyard if you would like to test it (1 or 2 cups will be enough for the soil tests we will be doing on the day)
  • A pen and/or coloured markers for note taking
  • Appropriate warm and outdoor clothing (part of the workshop is outside)

About Us

We – Hugh and Katie Finlay – draw on over 15 years' experience as orchardists at our farm, Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens, to bring you the Grow Great Fruit Program, the farm-proven system for home fruit growers.

To read the full story of our farming journey, click here 


Our blog gives a snapshot on various aspects of life on the farm. Currently Katie is documenting her journey as winner of the 2015 RIRDC Rural Women's Award for Victoria!

Visit the blog 

MAFG Forum

Grow Great Fruit Forum

Our Grow Great Fruit Forum is a place where our program members can access member resources, ask questions, and find answers to their specific fruit-growing problems.

Visit the Forum here.

Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens © 2017