Can You Dig It?

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The Dirty truth about Dirt

Many of us city folks look at dirt and think all dirt is created equally. But the truth is not all dirt is the same.

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If you have ever seen dirt like that pictured above, chances are you have seen soil that is difficult to grow healthy plants in. If you want to grow healthy plants in your garden, you need to lay a solid foundation of healthy soil. What makes the soil healthy? Soil health is dependent on bacteria, decomposers, and organic matter for the decomposers to break down and return to the soil.

Earth worms are what are know as decomposers. ( You probably learned about they guys back in your elementary school days in science class). Decomposers break things down into raw organic matter. Earthworms are not the only decomposers out there but they are some of the most helpful in the garden. Worms not only aerate the soil (which gives the plants wiggle room for their roots and allows water to percolate into the soil more easily), they also give back to their soil through their waste product.

Photo by Sippakorn Yamkasikorn on


Worm castings or worm poop is the gardeners best friend. It’s what many gardeners refer to as black gold. This stuff when added to plants gives them the extra juices that they need to perk up. Worm castings give the soil added vitamins and minerals in broken down forms that the plants can easily take in. I gave some to my garden and a bell pepper plant that looked like it was on its way out is not thriving.

Compost is another great addition to your garden soil especially if you made it yourself. Compost is decomposing organic matter usually from your garden scraps or fruit/vegetable food scraps (no meat). In order to make your own compost you need dry and fresh ingredients. The dry ingredients provide the carbon (dead leaves, dry grasses, hay) while the green matter (fresh grass clippings, kitchen scraps) provides the nitrogen which the soil needs to be healthy. My family has a compost bucket in the kitchen that we fill as we cook. When we have filled it, we dump it into our big outdoor compost pile. This creates new organic matter that the plants love. It takes time and a little bit of effort.

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