BUILDING SOIL

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Most people don’t give the ground beneath their feet a second thought.  Unless you’re some kind of gardener, you don’t worry about the health of the soil in your yard or region.  All that would change if you lived in an arid or polluted area.  We take our soil for granted, http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2011/11/08/stop-treating-our-soil-like-dirt/  Thankfully building soil is a simple project, all you need is an understanding of aerobic decomposition.  Soil itself is a complex and dynamic medium, changing it’s content though time and location.  Basically good healthy soil is made up of a diverse collection of ingredients both living and inert.  You need the basic building blocks of Humus, organic and inorganic (Carbon) material and micro-organisms.  If this sounds a lot like your composter that’s because it’s exactly the same as composting.  You needn’t leave soil building to the compost alone, you can build and enrich the soil in your garden as you go about your yearly cycle.  First Nations peoples have done this around the world for generations.  As we learned the secret of the soil builders in our ferret story http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2012/06/27/how-ferret-got-black-feet/ we can continue the work ourselves.  These are the necessities for creating soil in your yard, micro organisms;  you can’t compost without them.  It’s not hard to spot areas of low microbe populations, they look dead and when dry the little organic matter left turns to dust.  Microbes can’t live on air alone, they need food in the form of decomposing organic material.  Your first step in attracting a heathy population of these tiny soil makers is working in organic matter of some kind.  You can turn in your grass clippings once in a while or go for the no till philosophy and mulch.  The mulch eventually breaks down and enters the soil food stream.  Mulching also attracts the best of soil builders, worms.  The worms in fact do the tilling for you.  Green or raw organic matter provides food and dry or non living matter like wood pulp or dead leaves give you the carbon structure soil needs to create the balanced lattice that supports the soil food chain.  It’s also crucial to maintaining the chemical interactions required by plants to grow.  If you begin to think of soil as more than just a pile of dirt and see that it’s really its own eco-system, you can stop using chemical fertilizers because robust and healthy soil doesn’t need them.

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