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.
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
What Should I
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?
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