Another discussion about dirt, “great” you say, “She is obsessing again.” But dirt is important, or more specifically, what is in the dirt is important.
In my opinion, dirt is composed of eroded and crushed mineral elements but soil is a living breathing thing. Ideally it is composed of dirt and decomposed life, in the form of nitrogen, carbon and oxygen, along with other trace elements. Even more ideally it includes the enzymes and micro-organisms that will continue to feed on and break down even more vegetable matter into more soil. Plants need these elements to survive, along with a healthy dose of water every now and again (almost daily in the summer here in the desert).
If one is terrestrially challenge, like I am, where does one get good soil? With the growing re-interest in urban homesteading and organic gardening, there are all sorts of ways to find good soil. You can go the Craig’s List route at http://www.craigslist.org and search your area for topsoil, garden soil, compost or potting soil and you will get an overwhelming number of hits. Buyer beware! Before purchasing from someone locally, make sure you ask where the soil came from, what it is made of if it compost, and what may have been sprayed on it. If they don’t know, don’t buy. When looking at the soil, does it look rich and earthy, and does it smell earthy, too? Also, is it completely decomposed or does it still have a lot of discernable leaves and twigs. The latter is not necessarily bad, but know that it will not hold water as well. The same rules apply to soil you purchase at a garden center or big box store.
Another option is to make your own. The City of Mesa, for example, will provide a composting barrel to their customers for a $5 deposit, and you can keep the barrel as long as you want. They also have some very basic instructions for composting on their website at http://www.mesaaz.gov/waste/Successful_Composting.aspx. You should check with your local community if similar services are offered. If your community does not have a formal program, you can always purchase your own system affordably.
I have acquired a worm composter through Amazon.com. And my little worms have been busily chomping down on our kitchen vegetable scraps for almost 6 months now, and I am beginning to get some good naturally composted worm castings. The worms are currently living in our still-under-rennovation master bathroom, but they shall be relegated to somewhere else in the house as the bathroom gets finished. If you were wondering, there is no smell and I feed them every 3-5 days with about a cup of chopped up kitchen waste which has been run through the food processor. They also get sprayed with water at the same time. When the worm castings are ready, I mix them with purchased garden soil and organic potting mix before using them in my containers.
Speaking of containers – I did score a great find on Craig’s list with these old horse troughs – the bottoms are a bit rusty and leaky, so they work perfectly for my garden!
And the carrots I started planting last fall are ready to harvest – I planted several groups of seeds several weeks apart, and the first ones are gorgeous (and delicious)!
Next time – When Squirrels attack!
And we are joining up with Natural Living Mamma and her friends for their Natural Living Monday Blog Hop!
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