Compacted Soils

I just spent a few hours with my kids digging through some amazing soil.  Great soil has a therapeutic effect when it contains Mycobacterium Vaccae, and it makes the experience so enjoyable.  It’s the microbes in the soil!
I have been seeing so many soils with a crushed granite base, and those soils do not permit enough air or organic matter to help microbes thrive.   A professional gardener recently explained to me how  important it is to have the drainage guaranteed by the granite material when it comes to the monsoon rain years (like the spring/summer of 2007).
Really?  We are going to engineer the soil for an event that is occurs once every 5 years?  What about the drought years?  Aren’t they worse for the soil and our plants?  I am not satisfied that the use of the granite mixes as I have seen them in numerous soils is going to support our needs for healthier plants and lower water consumption, especially in turbulent times and climate/weather extremes.
Microbes make the difference in a soil.  They feed the bigger critters that make the holes that drain the water deeper.  If we have a compacted soil, that can’t happen.  Mulch at 4-6 inches as recommended by Howard Garrett allows the critters to come to the top of the soil layer and make holes for drainage.  Without that mulch, the critters would be burned by the sun, or unable to penetrate the compacted soils.  Mulch helps loosen the soil, not just by mixing it in with the underlying soil to become decomposing organic matter, but also by providing SPF cream to the soil’s skin.  That means keeping the sun off and allowing the microbes underneath to lead a healthy life and proper function.

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