Soil: Key to Our Future

Did you know, there are more organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on earth?

Even though you can't see most of it, a complex soil food web lives in your garden; it's teaming with earthworms, mites, bacteria, fungi — all kinds of mostly microscopic, interdependent organisms that release mineral nutrients and create the loose soil structure crops need to thrive. This mixture of minerals, water, and organic matter, is the one natural medium we have to grow food in across the planet.

Soil is host to soil w wormat least one quarter of the world’s biodiversity, and development, deforestation, unsustainable land use, pollution, overgrazing, and climate change, all contribute to the demise of our soil. Current predictions state that in 60 years we will have no more topsoil left on the planet if we carry on with the current industrial agricultural practices which destroy the topsoil from over-tilling.

Healthy soil is not only key for food production, soils also store and filter water, improving our resilience to floods and droughts.

To bring attention to one of our most valuable natural resources, the United Nations declared 2015 the International Year of Soils for the very reason that without soil we cannot live and grow food.

 What can you do?  Build soil!

Building fertile soil means learning how to feed the soil to feed the plants.

  • Minimize plowing, tilling, and digging.
  • Use compost, grass clippings, leaves, and other organic mulches on a regular basis to promote and sustain the soil food web.
  • Always keep the soil covered with live crops or, at minimum, an organic mulch (maple leaves are great for this!) Whenever you are not growing a food crop, sow a cover crop.  If you follow only these three suggestions you’ll help to build and protect your soil.  Soil is a non-renewable resource; its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.
    soil w sprout

Here are some great resources you can dig into. Both are available from the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowefels.

The author makes the science of soil very accessible – a great read.

Soil, by Elaine Pasco

This book introduces young readers to the wildlife lurking in the soil right under their feet and to the role of soil in plant growth. Activities include starting plants from seed and watching earthworms tunnel.

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Ceres Edible Landscaping wants to help you grow food and maintain your garden as a healthy and ecologically diverse ecosystem. We provide garden consultations, design, installation and organic maintenance services from a permaculture perspective. Call Nora for an appointment to plan your spring garden: 250.748.8506.