The Gorgeous Ground Beneath Our Feet

Asparagus emerging in the spring

I was reminded over Christmas to come back to the basics.

It seemed like the signs were myriad, reading the news: bizarre bombing in Nashville, criminals pardoned by the president, the pandemic surging and mutating … it was a good day for WW84 to release. To remember, sitting in my brother’s living room with my kids, eating a meal that he and his partner had lovingly prepared for us, that truth and kindness matter. They are the ground we walk on.

And speaking of the ground we walk on … soil. The food we eat starts with the soil it grows in. Soil is an overlooked wonder; jammed with microbes, microorganisms, and nutrients—soil, together with water and sun, are the alchemical ingredients to health and well-being— not to mention beautiful, strong plants.

It’s too cold in the northern hemisphere to be outside working with the ground but it’s not to cold to think about compost!

Soil has been defined as a natural body composed of minerals, air, water, organic matter, and living organisms. It is complex, having layers, it changes based on the underlying rock, local climate, topography, plants, animals, and fungi that inhabit it. It’s alive with a microbiome that nourish our digestive systems. Fun fact: there are more soil microorganisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on Earth. Kind of makes you feel gratitude to contemplate that, right?!

Other facts: the mircobiomes in soil have been known to affect human mood, encouraging calm. No wonder so many of us find gardening therapeutic. Soil is non-renewable, can die, and has an environmental impact because it stores carbon. Soil management can actually affect climate change.

For a beautiful article about soil check out a nice article at rainforest-alliance.org.

We gather up kitchen scraps, including daily coffee grinds, for our compost pile. I am no composting expert but I can tell you that a pile of these things in the backyard, left to do its thing in the sun, rain, and cold for a few months, produces some of the most nutrient-rich, wormy dirt ever. It’s called black gold for a reason.

I know a lot of people don’t have the outdoor space for a compost pile. There are some interesting alternatives like vermicomposting and bokashi fermentation out there that are fun to read about. Check out https://thecompostess.com if you’re interested in a fun site that’s focused on the virtues and nuances of composting.

For backyard-type composting, keep adding to your pile and consider covering it to keep in heat and moisture during cold months. Alternatively, birds and other animals seem happy to pick through compost for nutrients. It’s always fun to see which tracks are around my compost pile after the snow. 🙂

Happy Boxing Day!

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