Did you know December 5th is World Soil Day?
It's crazy that soil can have an entire day dedicated to it! So, why is soil so important? Here are a few reasons why!
- Soil is the base for our buildings, houses and roads. Some infrastructures and buildings are even made with soil.
- Soil is the home to many bugs, including worms and beetles. It also houses fungi and some bacteria. The soils provides them all with the nutrients they need to live.
- Soil is the basis of all life. It keeps the bugs, plants, animals and even us alive. If we didn't have the soil growing plants to feed us we couldn't eat.
- Soil grows the plants that provide us with food, animal feed, medicine, consumer products, household goods, clothes and fuel.
- Soil helps filter our water from chemicals and pesticides. It helps control pollution with its absorption properties. Water and Soil go hand-in-hand together.
So, what actually is soil?
Soil is composed of four main parts: minerals, organic matter, water and air.
- Minerals - rocks, sand, silt and clay. Healthy soil has the largest amounts of these other mineral nutrients as well: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. A few other mineral nutrients can be found in soils as well.
- Organic Matter - leaves, decayed plant particles, decomposed animals, and living organisms like bacteria, micro-organisms and fungi.
Soils from different areas with different weather have different amounts of rocks, sand, silt and clay, that make up different textures and kinds of soils.
Here are some ways to make sure your soil is healthy and happy:
- Avoid using chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides) in your gardens or on your plants (even your grass). They create an imbalance in your soil and can kill the organisms needed to help keep your soil healthy. The chemicals can also enter the water from rain, or run off into lakes and streams and harm wildlife.
- Do some research on the plants you have or are interested in adding to your gardens. (this has been a life-saver for our family - Pinterest for the win).
- Try adding beneficial insects to your garden. There are a few general helpers and then there are insects that you can add to help certain issues. For example, Praying Mantis and nematodes are great to help any garden.
- Many plants love companion plants that help deter invaders and attract beneficial insects. Some plants equally would prefer to stay away from certain ones as well (again, Pinterest has been my best-friend here).
- Add plants that help attract bugs that help keep the invading and unwanted bugs at bay. Let nature do the work for you (it'll add a variety of plants and be easy on the eyes too)!
- Feed your soil! This means adding things to it that will help the good bacteria and fungi grow. Add kelp (the dried is better), fish emulsion (take any leftover parts from any fresh fish you didn't eat, put in a blender, add some water and blend. Then add to your soil), and manure (not fresh, it will burn your plants).
- Start a compost pile. It improves drainage and moisture absorption. It also helps feed the good micro-organisms that will help feed your plants and result in bigger, healthier plants and gardens. We will have another blog about this soon
- Start a worm compost or vermiculture. Worm castings are one of the greatest foods for soil and plants. We will have another blog about this soon
So, the moral of the story is, your soil is ALIVE!!!
Feed it, give it water and snacks, dress it up with pretty plants and flowers, and play with it, play in it! Get all dirty and let those kids play in it too! Heck, invite the neighbors kids and Brenda's kids over for a dirt party featuring the Mud Pie you secretly made behind the shed so your Mom wouldn't find out! What harm will a little (or a lot) of dirt do? None at all! It's actually quite beneficial for your soil and you and the kids to play in the dirt, but that's a conversation for another time!!
Have any questions, let us know! Don't forget to tag #sunleafcares in those adorable pictures of you playing with your soil! Who knows, maybe you'll win something!!!