In 1981Mel Bartholomew wrote a book called Square Foot Gardening, and also had a PBS program too on bio-intensive organic gardening. He showed us that if planted properly even the smallest of gardens could have maximum yield, and every precious inch of garden soil be used to it’s greatest potential. 

I can’t help but ascribe to that kind of efficiency, and it works beautifully for any size garden. That the atmosphere a few feet above the earth in a garden be comprised of a sea of texture, shapes and shades of green with little or no bare earth in view. The canopy of  dense foliage acts like a living mulch protecting plant roots from moisture loss while squelching out the life of bothersome weeds. 

But silently, the underneath, the carefully concealed, the fertile ground, never escapes my mind. This marvelous underneath world of the soil food web.

Are you enjoying an abundance of fruit for your labors this summer season?  If you’re reveling in the satisfaction that comes from picking a juicy heirloom tomato or succulent leafy green that you grew all by yourself, take a few moments to reflect on ways to give back, to nourish the soil that produced all that garden goodness  Here are a few suggestions you might consider to”uppen” your garden’s soil food web.

  • Plant cover crops (green manure)in areas not occupied with vegetable plants. The cover crop will draw nitrogen deep into the soil. Cut and allow to decay in place or use to feed your compost system.
  • Mulch with compost. Create a sustainable circle of compost to garden, garden to compost system.  Here’s a look at my composting system and other garden soil love from an earlier post: 
  • “Leaving Me Lonely”.
  • Consider using a broad fork instead of tilling.  It’s gentler to your garden’s soil food web. Well nurtured garden soil is by far healthier for plants and much less work for the gardener. 
  • Red Pig Tools makes a dandy hand forged broad fork.
  • Mychorrhizae is the secret old time farmers always knew. That a shovelful of forest soil added to the garden soil helped to grow larger healthier plants. learn more about the benefits of Mychorrhizae
“I do some of my best thinking while pulling weeds.”

2 thoughts on “Underneath

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