Friday, August 24, 2018

God made dirt, and dirt don't hurt!

Soil & The Nutrients You Didn't Realize It Needed

Did you know that soil needs nutrients to properly feed growing plants?

Imagine with me - if you will - bringing home a brand new puppy. Puppies need a lot of different, essential nutrients to grow into healthy dogs, but you can't feed the puppy a steady diet of vitamins. You need to supplement the vitamins with puppy food, water, bedding, baths, adequate play time, and lots of love.

Similar principals go into keeping your soil healthy and productive. Vitamins and essential nutrients are all well and good, but healthy soil also contains wriggly critters and micro-organisms to help break up organic matter, furrow tunnels (free aeration!), and more complex (science-y) tasks.

Along with letting nature run her course, we are obligated to do our part, too. In order to help our soil do its best to help our plants grow healthy and strong, we need to make sure it retains the wriggly critters and micro-organisms.

Helping Your Soil:

When you turn soil on a small or large scale, essential nutrients are rotated to the top layer. Tilling helps to distribute the nutrients, but they are also more susceptible to being washed away by rain, wind, and irrigation systems.
What Should I Do?

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to till the ground, be sure to introduce nutrients through fertilizer and cover the area affected with a stabilizing force. Ground covering cloths and garden bark are a great way to keep the nutrients right where you want them.

What about the Creepy Crawlies and the Micro-Organisms?
Essentially, they will thrive in the most habitable environment. When you clear out the weeds and dead plant life from your garden, make sure to incorporate some of the dead plant life (just from the plants you want in your garden!) back into the soil. This will provide the creepy crawlies the food they need to thrive, and the micro-organisms will be able to re-establish themselves fairly easily in this friendly environment.

Even though these seem like small steps, especially in most of our home gardens, soil degradation is a big issue in the United States. According the the article on Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) below, "Experts estimate that since colonial times, U.S. soils have lost more than half their organic matter" (2018). Small steps we take now and the information we gain and share may help to spread the word about this increasingly scary problem.

Dean, Lyn. “The Secret Life of Soil.” ALCC Home, 21 Aug. 2018,