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The Secret Life of Soil

Did you know that the soil in your garden is home to billions of microorganisms, insects, worms and fauna? According to Soil Science Society of America ” a handful of soil has more living organisms than there are people on planet Earth.” This secret society plays an essential role in soil health by adding nutrients, increasing friability and absorbing and releasing essential elements like oxygen and nitrogen. One microorganism, mycorrhizal fungi, even facilitates the movement of water and nutrients between the soil and plant roots. Another, archaea, speeds up the decomposition of organic matter into food for plants to take in.

Keeping this subterranean universe in fine fettle is essential to plant vigor and productivity and while it might seem like keeping the billions of inhabitants happy, there’s really nothing to it.

Garden soil

There are a few steps you can take to encourage the development of beneficial organisms:

  • Water consistently – these bacteria require a damp environment
  • Add organic matter and organic mulch every spring and fall – to provide food and maintain the damp environment
  • Avoid excessive roto-tilling – excessive roto-tilling can destroy the bacteria
  • Avoid plastic sheets under mulch – the plastic limits water and air movement discouraging microorganism activity