IT’S ALIVE!! No, not Frankenstein silly, the soil. Let’s learn about the wonderful underworld of this planet’s greatest resource (beside women). Topsoil, dirt, loam, ground, and Earth (Wind and Fire, I couldn’t resist) are the medians in which plants live and thrive. It’s in this deep dark space where lurking just below the earth’s surface we discover the secrets of growing good food. Besides the usual worms, bugs, insects, and bees, (yes, bees live underground, we’ll explore them later), living soil contains microorganisms. Translation—teeny tiny creatures that live on other living or decomposing matter. Important point of order here, even dead matter supports life. So let’s get this straight, soil is alive for plant growth and when it’s rotting, how can that be? Read on Alice!
Fungi called mycorrhizae (my-cor-rhi-zee) or (my crow rises) and plants enter into a “friends with benefits” relationship. Plants agreed to let these fungi hang-out on its roots, the fungi agreed to act as hair extensions, improving roots’ reach 100-fold. If your mind is not blow yet, check this out. These filaments called fungus roots actually help plants communicate with one another faster than twitter.
SAY WHAT!! Plants talk? That’s like asking if women gossip…we deny it, but you know we do. Alright, before I go all Avatar on you, plants actually release chemicals when they are under stress (can you say, “B.O.”). Then these chemicals get detected by other plants and this warning allows them to put up defensive shields for incoming diseases and pests alike. Why is this important you ask…because, if given a chance most plants (like women) are designed to fend for themselves. They do not need our chemicals to live and thrive. If you want to grow good food, most of your effort should be in the building of healthy soil.
Like the Fifty Shades trilogy, healthy soil is comprised of three things: air, organic matter, and rock minerals. Plants need air because roots actually breathe, hence why plants die when overwatered, they basically drown. First safety tip, overwatering is bad. The ground goes anaerobic, (no oxygen), roots rot then die, followed closely by the plant. I digress. Back to the trilogy of soil, since you can’t buy bag-o-air, how does one put air into the soil? Why, you just work the soil with lots of organic matter and rock minerals. See how easy this is? Pssst, that’s how Mother Nature does it. Through erosion, rocks get ground down to minerals and debris decomposes into organic matter. Then, ta-da dark, rich soil forms in which new flora and fauna spring forth. There you have it, the circle of life!
Well, we are not getting any younger here so we can’t wait for rocks and debris to decompose.
I get that, so you can either make or buy compost, there is your bag-o-organic matter. And you can also buy bag-o-minerals such as lava or green sand. Now, these two get mixed into the existing soil and it will not only aerate the soil, but jump start the “friends with benefits,” arrangement. However, always a however, if using store bought compost, it is probably sterile, so you’ll need something to stimulate and excite the fungi, they are easily excited. Like most kids today, fungi and bacteria love sugar. They feed on the kind of sugar found in dry molasses or diluted liquid molasses, yes like the one that goes in pecan pie. Iver makes the best pecan pie, yum…I digress, again.
Here is an award-winning, life-giving, good-food grow’n recipe for luscious (like that word) soil:
Open a bottle of wine and let it breathe.
For every 100 sq. feet (10’x10’) of existing soil add:
5 cups of mineral rock
5 bags of compost
Get your man or some young kid to mix and stir, a lot. Yes, he can fire up the tiller and go like crazy, but only do this once when you first start a garden. Otherwise, you will pulverize all those micros that you have worked so hard to establish. Then pour yourself a nice tall glass of wine, swirl gently as you water the mixture thoroughly. With a garden hose in one hand and your drink in the other, strike a pose and toast the brilliance of Mother Nature and yourself. You, sister, have just created soil.
So, let’s review for those of you who have slept since the last blog. I convinced you by wit and dazzling blogging to grow or seek out good food. In this writing, you were wowed by the “Oh, so easy” way of making soil. Next month we shall “Release the Kraken!” This feat is achieved by the magic of transforming garbage into compost, compost into tea, and tea into organic fertilizer. How exciting!!!
Check out Mother Nature’s wicked sense of humor: Fungi boobs and weiners in the garden.