Stop Treating Soil Like Dirt – National Gardening Week: 17-24 October

The call is out to stop treating soil like dirt and start
giving it some love this National Gardening Week (17-24
October).

Damage to the planet’s land is
accelerating with up to 40% now classed as degraded, the
United Nations reports.[1]

In
2015 the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation
claimed soil is degrading so quickly that we may have less
than 60 years of growing food left.[2]
Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation process
threatening nutrition and is recognised as being among the
most important problems at a global level for food security
and sustainability all around the globe.

Entomologist,
naturalist and conservationist, Ruud Kleinpaste, says we
need to respect soil.

“We’re not standing on dirt,
we’re standing on an incredibly diverse ecosystem. It
cleans our water, it grows plants and trees – which
provide us with oxygen and sequester carbon – and it
provides us with food.

“Healthy soil is not only at
the very foundation of gardening success… but life,
itself,” says Kleinpaste.

Soil is a complex
ecosystem of microbes, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae,
nematodes and single-celled animals. One teaspoon of soil
contains up to 1 billion bacteria, several yards of fungal
hyphae (threads or strands), several thousand protozoa and a
few dozen nematodes.[3]

“If
you could count all the micro-organisms in one teaspoon, it
is more than the number of people on Earth. Scientists are
yet to discover all the functions of soil microbes.
Generally, they decompose organic matter, creating
nutrient-rich soil resulting in excellent compost,”
continues Kleinpaste.

Most seasoned gardeners have
learned and appreciate the value of quality soil. It will
make the difference between a successful gardening
experience over plant failure. The easiest way to improve
the quality of soil is to apply compost.

Fiona Arthur
from Yates says creating healthy soil is as easy as feeding
your soil with compost which contains organic
matter.

“Add to all those food scraps that
shouldn’t be going into the rubbish bin, grass clippings,
leaves, sheep or horse poo and seaweed and you have a
fantastic compost. Then add blood and bone to your garden to
fertilise, improve soil structure and provide natural
organic nutrients and lime encourages decomposition of
organic matter and earthworm activity.

“You’ll not
only have great growing conditions for your plants but
you’ll be helping nature and reducing your carbon
footprint as healthy soil banks carbon, says Ms
Arthur.”

To solve the confusion around what food
scraps you can use to make compost, Ruud Kleinpaste says
anything that once lived can be put in the compost
bin.

National Gardening Week aims to foster a love of
gardening with a focus on growing not only plants but
friendships, good health, strong communities and closer
connections with nature. Whether it’s a few pots on the
balcony, a small patch or an extensive garden, everyone can
experience the joy of gardening.

[1]
https://www.unccd.int/news-stories/press-releases/chronic-land-degradation-un-offers-stark-warnings-and-practical

[2]
https://www.fao.org/soils-2015/events/detail/en/c/338738/

[3]
https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/secret-life-soil

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