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The soils below our feet

I am in great appreciation for every step I take upon the earth where a world of wonder lives in the soils below my feet.

The soils are a miraculous environment of vibrant activity, and soils supply plants the nourishment for the foods that we eat daily.

Understanding the organic soil world below your feet might make you a better gardener and a person who understands a little about its complexity down below the crust of the earth. You will come away having a greater respect for one of earth's biggest contributors to life, soils and their rich life-giving properties.

Soils have many variations and can differ greatly from your landscape or farm to just down the block in another garden site.

The basic types of soils are sand, silt, clay, alluvial and organic.

To understand the different types of soils is important as to how you garden and the various types of plants that you can grow.

Soils play many roles in the garden for it is one of the most important factors on how the intricate root systems take up water and nutrients and communicate within the soil world.

Soil is where roots and beneficial microbes like fungi set up a complex, interconnected system for exchanging water, carbon and nutrients, and the soil is how plants are anchored to the earth.

Soil drainage is a key issue for how we garden out west. Sandy and silt-like soils drain fairly fast, while heavier clay or adobe forms hold on to water so require a completely different way of tilling the garden. Yet there is hope, by working and amending the soils and practicing natural gardening to bring these earthly delights to your garden once again.

You don't have to be a soil scientist to understand what is happening in the soil, but once you open up pandora's box of discovery, you will be in awe of the soil web that is living, breathing, interacting, and communicating with billions of organisms in the soil networking world.

Soil drainage is also of key importance for most plants want water percolation moving through their bits and pieces. When soils are too heavy and do not drain well, this can lead to pathological root fungi, which can alter how plants grow.

Whatever your soil type is, plant roots require oxygen within the soils structure, as much as they require water to sustain plant life. It is this porosity of drainage that aids in establishing a healthy root system and for healthy plant growth.

The world of earthworms has thousands of species squirming in the soil, eating, digesting and replenishing the soil's composition. Millions of fungi coexist with other soil-borne life to keep their act together in a biodiverse form.

This complex and soil weaving life is in constant motion with activity down below.

Mycorrhizal fungi are one of the key factors to healthy soils and work through tiny hair-like fibers that connect water molecules to the small roots. And natural organic gardening makes healthier plants and more nutritious foods and isn't that what we all want for our families?

Archaeological data from millions of years ago brings us to understand the formulation of the soil world, as we explore the creation of the planet and its history that we are living upon today.

With the evolution of the earth and the various phases that our planet has encountered, we come to the plateau of so much more to learn about the earth we live upon and yet we voyage off to distant planets to explore.

The natural resources here on this planet have been exploited, and we have not been good stewards on tending the precious soils, which sustains all our lives.

We have used the soils as a factory and not been rebuilding them back to their rich and natural state of years ago. Soils are a living world, and we must understand that for a sustainable future.

We have stripped our soils in quest of growing rapid crops but have not practiced crop rotation to invigorate soils' natural components.

The world climate is changing daily as my pen sets to paper, and I am very concerned on how we can enrich and feed the soils through our garden practices. And yes, you can do the right thing in your backyard and become a soil advocate to help replenish our soils' natural organic form.

Applying organic matter to the soils is part of the solution, and it is easy to do right at home with your own composting.

It is important to have an understanding of what your soils are like from the beginning and when setting any types of plants into the ground from veggies to posies to fruit trees and the shade trees that cool our homes and cities, for the soil's overall health is very important.

Having your soil tested can be done by a professional soil laboratory or there are home soil testing kits available at nurseries or farm stores. For the home gardener, this examination of the soil can be as elementary or complex, pending the thoroughness of the test.

I hope I have opened your thinking about soils regarding the earth upon which we all tread daily. Be kind to mother earth, for its our lifeline for survival as we float through space on this little blue marble called Earth.

Be respectful to the planet and be careful as too with the footprint that you leave behind. For soil is life to all types of species, and what we do today can affect tomorrow's food chains.

"He who plants a garden, brings happiness for others to enjoy"

Roger Boddaert is a landscape horticulturist and a certified licensed arborist who has been caring for the Fallbrook flora and soils for the past five decades. Consultations are available by calling 760-728-4297.


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