Thursday, December 19, 2013

Soil Creation and Thoughts On Complexity

I was just going through my pictures from the Appalachian Trail and found this:

Lichens are patiently eating into that big hunk of rock. Slowly but surely, it's being turned into soil that will feed the surrounding forest for generations and generations to come.

Some people might just see a mushroom... some mold... flies devouring a carcass or ants carrying away crumbs from a picnic.

But there's a lot more going on in nature. There's a huge cycle set in place long ago, where every piece interacts with every other piece, sometimes in immeasurable or incomprehensible ways.

The fungi in the soil can transfer nutrients across the forest floor... the bacteria in the soil can take nitrogen from the air and convert it into plant fertilizer... the insects break down organic debris... and the lichens on a rock can release minerals that feed the pines.

When you spray poisons or flood the soil with synthetic chemicals, you run the risk of damaging the trillions of processes happening in your garden's ecosystem.

Slow down... observe... think about how much is going on. Plant an abundance of species, drag home piles of sticks and logs to feed the fungi, sprinkle seeds around, mulch and let nature repair and balance itself.

When it comes to gardening knowledge, we've barely scratched the surface, just like those lichens. But every little bit of knowledge or thoughtful action makes a difference.

There's a plan here, set in place by Someone far above us.

Seek it out and enjoy the good things that come your way.

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At December 20, 2013 at 10:38 AM , Blogger rycamor said...

"Soil Creation and Thoughts On Complexity"--that makes me want to say something really, really profound.

Bah. Soil is just stuff... substances mixed together. Get the right mix of chemicals and minerals in a hydroponic bath and you can grow any plant, right? It's all a matter of straightforward calculation. Science! Who wants all those little organisms crawling around down there? Next you'll be telling me we have billions of microorganisms inside our guts! Let's have none of that icky talk.

At December 20, 2013 at 10:49 AM , Blogger David The Good said...


Rachel was just looking at a carton of eggs the morning and remarked "All grain fed hens. Hmm."

And I said... "yeah... no bugs. They need to feed them bugs!"

She replied "But that doesn't sell," then raised her voice into a yuppie whine and continued, "I don't waaaant BUGS in my eggs!"

At December 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM , Blogger Alabama Riverhound said...

David, thank you for that wonderful observation and lesson of the symbiosis of life. I agree whole-heartily with it. You have made me rethink my "spray program" I use in my orchard and my garden. It's easy to destroy life, harder to support it and foster it's growth.

At December 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

We happen to have a relative who was shocked and disgusted that our egg-laying chickens eat bugs. I say better them than me.

At December 20, 2013 at 11:15 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

If people had ANY idea the things chickens will... and do... eat.

At December 20, 2013 at 11:17 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Absolutely - glad I could steer you a little bit.

The main thing to keep in mind for complete ecosystem health: diversity. Plant lots of plants, even ones that are poisonous or not even "useful." The interrelationships are hard to grasp sometimes, but the overall system becomes much healthier as checks and balances occur.

It's like antibiotics. Sure, they'll knock out a bad illness... but wiping out all the bacteria isn't a good idea in the long run. It's better to have low-level exposure to a wide range of microorganisms than it is to go the scorched earth route.

At December 22, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of my continuous goals- increase the biodiversity. And it's working! This fall I've had more birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, lizards, every kind of observable life has increased in my yard. The soil is infinitely better, the trees are growing stronger, and the land is starting to thank me with more and more food.

Would you consider updating your comment widget to accept name/email/url to comment? It would make leaving comments on your blog posts much easier for people who don't have online email accounts, or don't want to share them.

At December 22, 2013 at 10:33 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

"more birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, lizards, every kind of observable life has increased in my yard. The soil is infinitely better, the trees are growing stronger, and the land is starting to thank me with more and more food"

That's great.

I'll see what I can do about the comment engine. I'm a bit limited on blogger.

At December 22, 2013 at 10:36 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Okay - commenting should be easier now. I found the setting.

If it gets too spammy around here I'll just add a captcha.


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