Don’t leave Gardens Naked

Soil regeneration is a term I’ve stumbled across these past few weeks while watching garden videos. Robert Rodale described this approach in the late 1980s. So, why am I so late in learning about how to care for the dirt beneath my feet?

I’m not a farmer, but a tree hugger worried about the effects of climate change. Our future generations deserve a healthy, beautiful planet. I want to do my part.

My son and I at Big Trees, California

I was born in California, home to some of the oldest and largest trees. I lived in Alaska for three years, where I picked berries until mid-night and saw a moose peek into our dining room window. Then Dick and I came to the East Coast, and we experienced the Chesapeake Bay with our three sons. I want my grandchildren and their children to have similar experiences: go camping, canoeing, and snowshoeing.

For this dream to come true, it comes down to protecting six inches of topsoil. Six inches of carbon-rich topsoil gives life to Earth’s flora and fauna. Just six inches. Please take a moment to let that fact settle into your conscience of our fragile existence.

If we carry on, as usual, we limit the world’s harvests. We’ve all seen images of the 1930’s dust bowl—research where current desertification is taking place near you.

What can you do to protect the six inches of soil in your yard, garden, or for that matter, raised beds? As gardeners, we understand the benefits of composting and mulching.

Next, think about how your spending could influence commercial farm practices.  If we work together as consumers, we can stop the use of harsh chemicals that produce low nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Grow a garden and support your local farmer’s market.

Where you shop could stop the use of pesticides that poison drinking water (check out the history of pesticides). Grow a garden and support your local organic farmers.

What you buy could stop mono-crops that destroy the soil. Grow a garden and support your local farmers who support soil regeneration.

Many of my gardening groups suggested watching “Kiss the Ground.” Here’s the link to the trailer. This documentary shows how the soil beneath our feet could reduce carbon in the air and how to put it back in the ground where it belongs. It’s worth your time. As I write this blog, it’s free on Netflix, and Vimeo lets you rent it for one dollar.

A critical rule of soil care is never to leave the ground bare. Are you finished with gardening for the season? Don’t leave your gardens naked. Plant a cover crop that will sweeten the soil, fix nitrogen, or build soil.

Using a cover crop is a new concept for Dick and me on our gardening adventure. We chose to plant a biofumigant, Kodiak Brown Mustard, to get rid of soil pests on a 40’ x 21’ patch of weed-infested dirt. We are so impressed with how fast the seeds germinated. It’s not been a week, and the speed at which they’ve grown is impressive, despite the fact we had two inches of rain from Zeta and several cloudy days.

Here’s a link of us starting a new garden bed with cover crop:

Let me hear about your experiences with cover crops.

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