The secret to a healthy garden is healthy soil. But what makes a healthy soil?
Most people rightfully assume a healthy soil contains all the minerals and nutrients plants need to grow properly. Much like we might need a vitamin tablet if our diets are inadequate.
But did you know the minerals alone do not make a healthy soil? There is something far more important without which your plants will not thrive. All healthy organic gardens have plenty of this one thing. No it’s not water. Although that is vital too.
The secret ingredient to an amazingly productive and healthy garden is lots of micro-organisims. Some might call them germs.
Tiny, microscopic, single celled living things are the key to your healthy garden.
Bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes make a healthy living soil that in turn feeds plants and then us.
There are billions of these tiny creatures in healthy soil. They feed on organic matter and turn that into nutrients the plants can recognise and use.
The plants and the micro-organism live in a symbiotic relationship. That means they help each other out. One can’t live without the other very well.
Plants can’t use the straight minerals all that well. The tiny creatures turn the minerals and nutrients into compounds the plants like much more.
It’s a bit like the difference between being offered a raw potato and turning that into delicious comforting mashed potato for us. We can eat the raw potato but it’s not that desirable. Mashed potato on the other hand is the ultimate comfort food and will make us grow fat and lush!
We all know compost is good for the garden. Well guess who’s responsible for turning the food scraps, garden clippings and dry leaves into compost? Yes that’s right – good old micro-organisms.
Have a guess what kills those beautiful little germs in the soil?
Chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, artificial fertilizers. All the nasty things that get sprayed onto our food in the name of increasing production. Unfortunately over time, these treatments kill the soil.
The soil becomes depleted of nutrients so the farmer has to use even more of the artifical fertilisers to keep production up. It is not a life sustaining cycle.
Micro-organisms are the key to healthy life on this planet. They are the key to healthy soil which gives us healthy plants which we then eat (or feed to other animals which we later eat).
So we need germs to survive and thrive!
Also – did you know the same is true for us as human beings! We need the good bugs in our system to be healthy and happy. Our gut is designed to be full of healthy micro-organisms to help us digest food properly, keep out dangerous microbes and make good chemicals our body needs.
So now when you think of feeding your soil you are not feeding the soil itself but the micro-organisms that live in the soil.
They go nuts for compost, animal manure, mulch made from organic matter, molasses, milk, food scraps, blood and bone meal, sea weed mixtures, comfrey tea and green manures.
Some of these, such as the food scraps and green manures, need to be broken down or turned into hummus before planting because the nutrients won’t be available for the plants just yet.
I love the divine intelligence of this planet. Everything we need is here. Everything has its place. Even the teeny tiny creatures. They are kind of the most important thing of all! I think microbes will be the saviour of this planet once we embrace them and give them the respect they deserve.
Love your bugs people!
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