Happy Soil is Alive Soil

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Soil Before and AfterBacteria, protozoa, fungi – while the wrong kind can make you sick, what a lot of people don’t realize is that not having enough of the right kind can make your plants very unhappy.  

Soil isn’t just made up of dirt.  It’s a blend of organic and inorganic materials and living organisms that provide your garden with the nutrients it needs.  Most plants can’t just use the components in fertilizers straight from the ground.  For the bulk of trees, flowers and vegetables, microbes and other friendly helpers in the dirt are needed to convert the vitamins, minerals and even water into a usable form.  Without those little critters, plants do poorly.

So what does this mean for your garden?  Have you ever tilled the garden until you got the dirt to be nice and loose?  Then you dumped in some fertilizer and planted, only you didn’t get the amazing results you’d hoped for?  What you don’t realize is, that by tilling heavily, you may have actually disturbed/destroyed what good bacteria, microbes, and other living organisms and soil structure those plants actually needed to thrive.

One way to help put the "life" back into your garden is to use compost.  It can add back the vital "fauna" your plants need to really do well. And to help your compost really pack a punch, "seed" it with soil from an area in your garden where plants are doing the best – that "dirt" most likely has the bacteria, protozoa and fungi that are right and they’ll help your new compost have the same needed balance.  (If your whole garden looks hopeless, "borrow" a little "starter dirt" for your compost from a friend whose garden is doing well.)

By using soil that has all the right stuff, you should experience a wonderful improvement in your plants’ health, size and color.  Try it and see.

 For more information on organic gardening / using compost to improve how your garden grows, check out Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowefels: 

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