Soil Health

layers of a lasagna lawn

And how Organic Practices can help

Soil health matters

Soil health matters because we come from the soil.

“Matter can not be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another”

~ Antoine Lavoisier

From the time of conception.  Most everything that your mother ate, drank, or absorbed has some molecular connection with the soil.  It could have been derived from a mined mineral, plant part, or fossil fuel.  It doesn’t matter if she was a strict carnivore or vegan.  Even many “bad habits” such as smoking or illicit drugs have their origins in the soil.  Everything is a cycle.

Also a cycle, is this dependence that we have developed on chemicals.  We identify a problem with our garden space.  Out of time constraints probably more than anything, we spray or sprinkle on something to cure the symptom, which it does, temporarily, but in the process it has killed all the beneficial insects in the soil that the plant had their trying to help itself naturally.  So the problem comes back, we spray or sprinkle on more or harsher chemicals, more beneficial bugs die, and the cycle continues.

Soil health is important because,

If the soil around the problem plant is at optimum health, then when a problem arises with a specific plant, that plant will have the resources to fight off the infestation or infection naturally.  Alternatively, the plant will call in for help from outside forces.  They may signal to a carnivorous insect to come eat something that’s hurting the plant, or they may draw micronutrients from surrounding fungi to produce a toxin to fight off the problem itself.

Take for instance if the problem plant above had black spots on the leaves.  So I apply a “black spot on leaves” spray and the problem goes away, seemingly, but keeps coming back as new leaves emerge.  Quick google search says that its a fungus, so fungicidal spray. Same thing helps short term but comes back and worse now.  (That stuff kills ALL fungi, not just the bad ones).  So now i start just pulling leaves and slowly the plants dies and I replace it only to have the same thing happen to the next plant.

In some plants,

In some plants, there is a fungus that causes black spots on the leaf, BUT, the fungus is actually a little dot in the middle of the black spot.  The black comes from the PLANT killing off the immediately surrounding tissue, so that the fungus has no food to spread to.  The plant is trying to heal itself.  The rest of the leaf is still viable to the plant, and vital to fighting off the fungus.  Also vital, may be the existence of copper (or some other micronutrient) in the soil, in very small amounts.  The plant needs copper to create a toxin that will ultimately kill the fungus.  It may even drop a leaf or two to buy time till copper can be found.  Also, the plant may not be able to process the copper in the soil in the form that it is.  It may need a fungi to process the copper first.  Wait, I sprayed a fungicide and killed all the fungi in the soil.

Had I fed the fungi in the soil and made sure there was a good supply of a wide variety of nutrients and minerals, that plant probably would have fought off that fungus without me interfering too much at all.  What is an easy way to do that?

Compost and Compost Tea