Feeding Soil Microbes
Energizing your garden soil
Soil or dirt as we know it is not dead as some people think but is very much alive with billions of microbes. What amazed me many years ago as I did a study on garden soil is I found out that a teaspoon of garden soil contains billions of soil microbes, believe it or not, these soil microbes are responsible in part for the overall health of our garden plants.
Soil microbes have the awesome job of breaking down organic matter converting them to nutrients and then releasing these nutrients to our garden plants to be taken them up by their roots. Organic matter is anything that was once living. It could be leaves that fall from the trees onto the soil surface, the bodies of dead rodents, animals or insects even dead tree and plant roots are all considered to be organic matter. In other words, anything that was once living but now dead is organic matter.
A good example of this is plants growing in the wild or in nature, notice how beautiful these plants are with their burst of colors and lush green no human effort is involved but yet these plants are full of life and thriving. How is this possible? well, it is what we discuss earlier. As life is taken, life is created and enhanced through this process. This is nature at its best, in the wild these natural organics are broken down and reused.
Feeding soil microbes
By feeding soil microbes we are energizing our soil to meet our plant’s requirements. Soil microbes also bring stabilization to our garden soil by taking our soils through a process that binds organisms and soil particles together that leads to a solid soil structure.
What is also interesting to note is as the weather get’s colder the activities of these microbes decreases and as the weather warms up the opposite happens, there is an increase of microbial activity, this is why plants do so well in the spring through the summer months. More activity from these microbes means stronger healthier plants.
Soil microbes also use some of this organic matter as fuel to build biomass to assist with their own growth and development, they release the rest as carbon dioxide, these microbes are truly complex and make a huge difference in our garden soils.
Synthetic fertilizers vs natural organics
There are mix feelings when the topic arises of synthetic or man-made fertilizers vs natural organics. It is believed by some that because synthetic fertilizers are salts when added to the soil for plant uptake these fertilizers will draw water from soil microbes causing a negative effect while on the other hand, the belief is these fertilizers is said to have a positive effect on soil microbes by making nutrients available to be used.
And overuse of these fertilizers, however, can contaminate streams, lakes and the water system, using synthetic fertilizers to heavily also contributes to plant burn which simply means salts from synthetic fertilizers collects around the plant’s root zone pulling or drawing water out of the plant which causes plants to wilt.
Therefore when using fertilizers such as synthetics use in moderation, for more on synthetic fertilizers follow these links slow release and quick release fertilizers. Overuse of synthetics can also change the soil’s ph which can have a negative effect on plants. A rule follow is to always read and follow the manufacturer’s label because the label is the law.
Feeding soil microbes
When it comes to natural organic, soil microbes are in organic heaven because organic material is not only beneficial to soil microbes but is beneficial to plant life, natural organics enhance soil structure through absorbing and holding water along with fertilizers, helps the soil to become porous which aids in drainage and proper air circulation which help to sustain soil microbes and supports proper plant growth.
Type of natural organics
Below is a shortlist that provides examples of natural organics.
- Chicken manure
- Cow manure
- Horse manure
- Composting- creating a compost pile both indoors and out
- Organic soil mix- creating an organic soil mix
- Mulches- the benefit of mulches
- Coffee grounds
- Epsom salt
- Organic fertilizers- organic fertilizers
- Eggshells- eggshells in the garden
- Leaves and grass clipping- the benefit of leaves and grass clippings
NOTE: when using animal manure as listed above ensure that manures are dry first before using because fresh manure will cause the plant to burn.
The final word
These amazing facts are so beneficial to plant life. Unseen to the naked eyes are billions of microscopic organisms that are hard at work connecting with nature by giving nature a helping hand. So let’s work hand in hand with these soil microbes because by connecting with them and nature we will be helping ourselves.