The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to promote soil microorganisms

Diagram of soil with microorganismsAs a gardener, it's not enough to simply know that your soil is teeming with life.  You probably want to know how to adjust that life to make the best possible environment for your plants.

Soil organisms detest most components of traditional agriculture.  Chemical fertilizers, soil disturbance (aka tilling), lack of oxygen, and excessive wetness can wipe out your soil food web in a heartbeat.  Growing annual plants with no perennials around will starve all of the beneficial bacteria and fungi that depend on root exudates so that next year when you plant your seeds, the soil is barren.

Instead, try no-till techniques and mulching in your annual gardens.  And if you really want a healthy soil environment, start forest gardening.  Some tree roots keep growing (and secreting sugars) all year --- just what your bacteria and fungi are craving!

This post is part of our Living Soil lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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