Soil 101: Getting Started.
If you want to have healthy plants, then you need to have a healthy soil. It all starts with the soil! You might think that you know what soil is, right? It’s that stuff that gets muddy when it rains, the kids like to play in and what the dog like to dig. Yeah, that stuff which we call dirt is a component of good soil, but to get it ready for veggies and flowers (and especially Tomatomania tomatoes!), we need to amend this definition…and the ‘dirt’ in which you plant. Like the old saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it!
So what do we ‘put’ into it? Good question, and one that we will explore in more detail next week. First, what I want you to do is to imagine soil at a basic level. In you mind’s eye, focus on a handful of soil, and imagine that you have microscopic vision and can really stare into it. What you would see is an entire ecosystem right before your eyes. Volumes have been written about the creatures great and small that inhabit this amazing microscopic world, but all we need to know for now is that to have good soil we need to treat it like an ecosystem. That simple. Soil is alive, and balance is the key.
Good soil is a combination of dirt (clay, loam, sand), organic material (compost, manure), air spaces, water pores and lots + lots + lots of organisms (did I mention lots?). These organisms are the real unsung heroes of our time, doing the job of feeding our plants, and in turn feeding us. These are the bacterium, fungi, worms, nematodes, protozoa, algae… on and on, that consume the organic material (even each other) then excrete out the stuff of dreams (okay, maybe only of my dreams)… Fertilizer! All natural, organic and uncensored, this is the stuff that makes plants zoom! Delicious Tomatomania tomatoes, sweet carrots, perfect Zinnias; these are all byproducts of a healthy soil food ecosystem.
So in a nutshell (yes, even nut shells are good compost!) Healthy Soil + Healthy Microorganisms = Healthy plants. Plain and simple. Feed your soil ecosystem and you feed your desire for luscious, homegrown produce and flowers.
Stay tuned next week as we explore amendments and the formula for soil success!
Thanks for reading and happy gardening!