The Dirt on Roots: Lesson 2

By Michael Leach

Unseen legions of microscopic helpers make gardens grow as much as an army of horticulturists — but they rarely get credit.

They live in a world populated with as many varieties of life forms as the ocean, maybe more. And like the ocean, the sun only illuminates a small part of this realm.

Their world connects to ours through the roots of crabgrass, redwoods and all the plants between.

We call their world dirt but such a critical part of the biosphere deserves honor, if not reverence. Soil is the place where most of what a plant needs to live is found, where our gardens take root and where our feet are planted.

That is why garden experts recommend amending the soil by spreading compost or well-rotted cow manure over the bed and tilling it in as a key to success.

What a lot of work when all we want to do is plant lettuce seeds.

Well what if the soil is the clay commonly found in central Ohio and many other Midwestern places and planted “as is”?

The site will dry to adobe a few days after we water in our lettuce seeds and begin looking at salad recipes.

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