Healthy Soil is the essence of Healthy Life
Soil health is important to the health of our garden plants, and in turn to our health. What goes on within our soil life affects what we see above ground. Our plants draw their nutrients through their roots from the soil, contributing to the nutrients we receive when we eat the plant.
Before we embark on planting seeds or seedlings in our garden beds, it is important to have an understanding of our soil quality, type, texture and structure. Our soil quality can be improved by increasing organic matter, but we need to know what we are dealing with before we start.
This understanding can be achieved by performing a few simple tests to analyse your soil. Involving children in these experiments will help them to understand why certain plants flourish and thrive, whilst others may not have such resilience.
Children as Soil Scientists:
- Find three clean glass jars take a sample of soil from three different locations in your garden.
- Fill the glass jars a ¼ in depth with the soil. Top this up with water to around ¾ of the jars.
- Place a lid on the jars and give good shake – leave the jars undisturbed for a week.
- After a week without mixing the contents of the jars examine the layers that have formed.
Clay, sandy or loam?
This is a great tactile observational exercise when children feel like making mud pies.
- Take a hand full of soil, moisten the soil, scrunch and roll in your hand, and feel its texture.
Silt = smooth
Clay = sticky
- Roll the soil in your hand like a rope.
- A pH kit can be purchased so that you can test the levels in your soil at home or school. The Manutec Soil pH Test Kit available at garden stores or hardware stores, is complete with instructions to guide you in how to perform this test.
- The ideal pH for growing most fruit and vegetable plants averages between 6.0 and 7.5. A pH level of 7 is neutral figures over 7 are alkaline and figures below 7 are acidic.
"Earth User’s guide to Permaculture" by Rosemary Morrow