Today’s world we are all about facts, figures, science and we need proof to have any commitment or agreement. Our soil work is very hands on, creative and an art, but it is also very detailed in science.
We want to know! So, we created a little experiment with our compost cooking piles and the gardens here at the land of the Purple Carrot Club. Yep, we intend and hope to prove our work is going to benefit us and all who employ us.
The understanding of microbiology is fairly new to the gardening world. The simplest explanation goes something like this… there is a web of life in the soil that needs to be maintained and encouraged so that our food is at its’ highest and healthiest nutritional content. Now I have this new understanding, gone are the days of just making a compost and thinking it is good. It doesn’t work like that. I would guess that 95% of all compost piles without understanding the microbiology can be damaging our soils. We need a microscope to see what is going on. We need a “way” to create piles for the good guys thrive. We need to determine the success by seeing the good guys thriving and doing their job.
The basis of the soil food web is quite fascinating. Through pH signals, plant roots talk to bacteria and fungi requesting certain nutrients. In exchange for these nutrients the plant gifts back exudates from the upper world (light and air). It is an exchange relationship that works very well. The bacteria and fungi agreeably go off to find the food in the soils aggregates and anticipating the promised plant food, they bring it back the morsel gifts. I think us humans could learn about this concept and have a much better world. However, the gift morsels are not quite ready for the plant, yet. It is not soluble nutrition and needs another layer to unlock the gift. So, along come the good guy predators (love that some predators can actually be good guys). These creatures enjoy a meal of those bacteria and fungi. The take only what they need and they poop out the excess molecules of nutritional solubility. Yep, once again, shit becomes life! The plant uptakes the gift and is happy and the cycle continues.
So, it isn’t about putting food, supplements, amendments into the soil. This concept, both organic and chemical, has to go. It strains the web of life and confuses the pH the plant uses as a language to share its’ needs. It imbalances the cycle causing under and over growth of the soil animals in ways that nature didn’t intend.
What we need to be inoculating with is living soil animals. Our system of adjusting and forcing our way has got way out of control and our soils and food are almost devoid of any life. Even forest soils are testing low on microbiology. I have done a few tests locally expecting to see teeming life and then my bubble was popped. Our way of dealing with life can be paralleled in our need to vaccinate too. There isn’t a “shot” or “needle” approach to the world of soil. I also feel the same about us humans too.
In both the chemical and organic worlds, we are, unfortunately taking the same approach to our soils…and vaccinating the land. It will and has screwed us up. I do feel the health of our soil, body and our immune system are way more connected and reliant upon nutrition and health microbiome. It is strange how we rely on a needle more than our soil. What if we could prove otherwise?
So, we begin our test in our land microbiome. Our question is “can we see and taste the difference between our test plots?”
I tested the garden soil expecting to see some goodness. Ugh! They weren’t that good. That is humbling really as I work my land with a lot of intention. But, my approach has been organic amendments. I know it is not full of life and almost sterile because I looked under the microscope. It wasn’t what we call “dirt” (completely void of life) but it wasn’t teaming with the soil web either.
Our compost pile was also tested. It was the first compost pile we created and it’s name is “Jimi’s Pile”. Its creation is made from greens, woody and party food blended in a certain way. We also added the ashes of Jimi. Our recipes are different for every pile as we are learning as we go and following the data. Our recipes consider the foods for fungi- woody, bacteria, green and of course the main dinner plate for all, the nitrogen, party food.
Our daily data sheets of the composts record the moisture levels, temperatures, eye and smell observations. My studies with the Soil Food Web gave us platelet protocols to make the fastest most potent compost piles with the least amount of damaged to the tiny lives living in the pile. Ale has now taken on the role of head chef compost maker. I am the scientist gal discovering the life in the ingredients. The studious investigation of our piles can actually blow your mind. A little bit of this and a little bit of that! Check this, check that. We have failed and succeeded and continue to learn the art and I think we are finding great joy in learning about the soil. If a pile fails, which it has, it never goes to waste and is added to another pile in the category of woody.
Can we see the difference using our living compost with our eyes and eventually our palates! Dr Elaine suggested that our food from gardens today was devoid of nutrition and taste due to the lack of microbiology (and this includes organic foods too). Will we be able to see and taste the difference?
We created a control area (with no amendments). Then we establish two other staged areas…one inoculated with Jimi’s Compost Pile and the other with a “tea” of the same pile.
We planted three areas with the same seeds. Six rows a plot that included
Soya Bean (5 generations old),
Plot One – Control…just as it is!
Plot Two Compost crude
Plot Three Compost tea
All three covered with Bogaso as mulch (spent Sugar Cane)
Now, we wait
Below is the microscope images from Jimi’s compost (first row) and then the images from the garden. In the garden, there was some life but not enough to say the soil can feed the plants. The compost was full of life. Below that is the data sheets of the counts. I will be sharing more about this in future posts and record it here to show the changes over time.