Fill Your Soil with Life!
“Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people.” -Rodale Institute
The life of soil is often neglected. By focusing on isolated non-organic elements (nitrogen,phosphorus, and potassium), the complex dynamics of the soil life underground is ignored. Non-organic fertilizers and pesticides foster imbalances, kill beneficial living organisms, and result in pollution of our groundwater. As an added bonus, recycling organic materials decreases the flow of trash going to landfills.
Healthy soil and plants require not only the nutrients, but the activity cycle that produces the nutrients. Raw materials are ingested or absorbed by various life forms (insects, worms, micro-organisms) and then broken into nutrients, enzymes, minerals, and antibiotics, which are in turn fed into the cycle again. Here are some examples of beneficial soil practices that will make a difference:
Recycle and compost organic matter from your house and yard and feed it back to the soil and its organisms. Worms and other decomposers will eat your organic material quickly and turn it into potent organic fertilizer while adding beneficial enzymes, microbes and moisture. Feed your soil regularly with organic compost and it will provide the plants with the nourishment to grow delicious and nutritious harvests. Need more compost? Collect organic materials from friends and neighbors.
Use only organic fertilizers such as compost, worm castings, and aged manure, all which build humus and maintain moisture.
Protect your soil from the sun and heavy rain by covering it with mulch or straw. Mulching helps maintain soil temperature, controls weeds, slows evaporation, and slowly decomposes, adding the same benefits as compost.
Preserve decomposers such as centipedes, beetles, and roaches; they help break down organic matter into soil.
Avoid non-organic or chemical fertilizers and pesticides which destroy essential micro-organisms needed to make nutrients available to plants, and discourages these important soil workers from living in your earth.
Resources on the Web:
The Dirt on Soil: What’s Really Going On Under the Ground – from the Discovery Channel
Soil Regeneration – from the Rodale Institute
Soil and Organic Farming – from the Organic Trade Association
Organic Farming: Good Practic for Soil Quality Preservation (.pdf) – from the European Commission
Building Soil Organic Matter with Organic Amendments (.pdf) – from the University of Wisconsin-Madison