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Soil and a Blue Friend

September 25, 2016

Soil vs. Dirt: what’s the big deal?

We discussed this difference on Friday, sitting on some tree stump seats in the Upper Organic Garden. By definition, “Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that together support life on Earth.“, while “Dirt is unclean matter, especially when in contact with a person’s clothes, skin or possessions when they are said to become dirty.” Is the difference clearer?

Soil is living, and dirt is, for the sake of this point, unwanted. Soil is a unique ecosystem, balanced to support life; soil is the Pedosphere. Soil is made of sand, silt and clay- large, medium and small particles. The balance of these is never the same, but there is a desirable consistency to allow for plants (and small creatures that constantly are creating new soil) to root properly. Sandy soil allows for great water drainage, but not a series of intricate roots to form; soil comprised of mostly sand will lead to water pooling on the surface almost immediately. Like human life, soil needs a good balance.

To create your own super soil, you can try composting. Using worms and/or maggots, you can compost under your bed (although if you are skeeved out about the possibility of an unlikely escape, I wouldn’t recommend). First, rip up some newspaper and get it damp, putting it in the bottom of either a dark pot or container. Then add a layer of worms or maggots atop that. Next, add your compostable food scraps (make sure it’s not anything containing oils…check composting details before working on this!). Add another layer of these torn, damp newspapers, put the lid on, and you’ve started! Keep adding new food, for it will quickly be turned to compost that you can put on your plants as their own superfood.

What’s in the Soil?

Bugs. Bugs are in the soil, in case you’ve never checked. In class, we discovered a little creature walking around the garden (seen on a pinecone in one image above). I think that I have found out what kind of bug it is, but if you are an expert, please correct me!

That being said, I believe this creature is a Blister Beetle. It has a chemical in it called Cantharidin which is a poisonous chemical often used to remove warts. The adults often feed off of the leaves of vegetables that flower, and only use their poison for protection.

What’s Growing Now?

SWISS CHARD! LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS! Whatever you do, please try it. It grows in slightly acidic soil, needs a lot of space (because just look at those leaves), and needs a lot of water to be as good as it can be. If you are looking to grow chard next year, grow it next to green beans- they live quite harmoniously together- or other family members to cabbage or onions. Enjoy!!

 

Check out the Organic Garden and Permaculture Gardens NOW before the season gets too cold!

 

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