Soil Is The Root Of Your Health
I have been thinking how can I talk about soil health and make it understandable to everyone even if they don’t get it under their finger nails.
So how about comparing soil health to our own health and in particular to what we eat? The idea of feeding a soil may seem strange as we normally think about feeding a plant. But feeding a soil with a correct balanced diet can provide all that the plant needs - one reason why good gardeners spend a lot of time getting their compost right.
This good compost has an ideal ration of carbon to nitrogen: a balanced diet, just like the one we need for our bodies. The compost may not feed the plant directly but it feeds a complex and intricate web of organisms, all working together below in the dark.
As the ciliates eat the bacteria, the nematodes eat the fungi, and when they all give up and die they release nutrients available for plants into the soil. So you don’t need to add the quick fix from a bag of fertiliser. It's a free way to grow a plant – well there is some cost to the compost.
If we get the feeding wrong, can things go wrong just as if we eat too much sticky toffee pudding? Lots of readily available carbs in the soil including sugars does encourage bacteria to flourish – and while this is not a real problem, we want a balanced life in our soil and bacteria are not so good at holding onto the carbon and locking it down in the soil.
If we give our soil more complex carbs including some woody type stuff the fungi thrive too and they can really help the plant get at more nutrients and water from the soil and bring up the minerals – improving the diet of the plant and fixing the carbon in the soil and away from the atmosphere.
To finish with an Albert Howard quote: ‘the health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’. Healthy soil, healthy people, healthy planet.