Hello again everyone!
Hope you all had a great weekend. Lets get into this final part of my 4 part series.
In part 1, I mentioned how I used forest soil with disastrous results. This is because the soil was not yet conditioned for the crops that I was growing. How many of you have looked at "soil" at the store, saw this black gunk and thought,"Ah, good soil." Anyone? Most of that soil is made with or has a base of wood. Bad news. Why? Because it is not properly digested for use on the plants that you are growing.
Here is the basic cycle of nature: when you have some soil that has been abused in some form, has no plants growing, etc., and nature takes its first step, what does nature begin to grow? Weeds, and woody shrubs. Weeds help in ground cover and to promote an atmosphere where soil bugs can grow. The woody shrubs are there to develop and start the soil healing in these acidic soils.
In short, the acidic soil, is defined as having a lack of organic matter, minerals, etc., and a low pH. This plant flora is referred to as growing cellulose. Man has a hard time digesting cellulose. So the soil in this state is not yet conditioned for man to use to grow what he needs. So this state is basically one that is not yet baked and ready for use. Nature takes a long time as it grows these woody plants, adds waters, serves as hosts to bugs and all this nice stuff that in time will move the soil to where the next step can take over and do its part. For whatever reason nature sometimes chooses to speed up things up a bit and a fire takes place. Sometimes man interferes with this own fires, but the end result is the same. All the organic matter is quickly converted and the stuff that does not burn in all the trees, etc., is called the ash, not accounting for the unburned carbon in the form of smoke. Ash is very good, as that is the inorganic minerals and a form of natural fertilization taking place. Some plants have a seed protection factor that needs a fire to start its process and as it does, a new set of plants grow and contribute their part to healing and rebuilding the soil.
The whole myth of higher elevation crops is good and low elevation crops is bad is both right and wrong. What makes it bad or good is the amount of nutrition in the soil that is able to be used by the plant to properly process the elements to a useable form for animals and humans (we really are animals for sake of discussion in this context). Also another factor and this should excite a number of you as you live in the cities, is that plants actually do very well in the city. I will address the reasons here as well. It is really quite comical as man still can't hold a candle to nature in that nature seems to have the solutions to all these problems man seems to invent. (Just my opinion here).
When "making" soil for your garden, do not and I repeat do not use wood for the base of your soil. However in short, think about this, look at landscaping, where do they use wood chips? Where they don't want anything to grow except woody plants correct? Why, they kill out, not only by shading, but by chemical retarders emitted by the "undigested" wood. The wood has to be converted before "food" plants will grow in the soil of wood.
You need to move past the "Organic" propaganda of "inorganic" is bad. All of these minerals are by definition "inorganic". What you are wanting to avoid is the Petrochemical type of materials. Then you also want to avoid the improper elements for the purpose at hand no matter the classification.
With all that said, I hope you've enjoyed this Soil & Life Special Feature. And I hope you can take some of the information to help with your health, your gardens, your life!
Best Regards and until next time!
Written by Kent King.