By Jannie Vaught
This season of fall is turning out to a blessed relief from the drought-ridden summer, and the fall garden is possible the best time to grow in growing zone 8a. As we now have had substantial rain and humidity to revive our native grasses and flower bulbs my fall garden is now ready for some delightful garden salads and greens. Just had to push through the hot times to get to this point. And that takes some discipline to get out there and get the work done.
Today as I marvel at the almost instant growth I go to the “work” I have been doing and that is soil health by restoration of microbes, soil carbon, earthworms, and red wigglers and all the underground web of life. Even though I do not always see it, it is a natural fact that the real source of soil life is in the fungi, microbes, and worms. As the process of building the soil has been on the top of my list another list has evolved. How to “Kill” the soil microbes, once I got this piece of information the “Awhaw” moments all came together.
Heres 7 things that will kill microbes and by “Not doing them”, we will begin the restoration of the health of our soil.
Chemicals, the list is long on this. Here is a particular one many of us do not even know about or do not put the dots together that is a direct problem. Ivomectrin the animal worm medication that is given regularly. I am guilty of this as I did not have the information and see the results of this chemical. I’m not saying for people not to care for their animal by removing parasites its vital to their health. But what if there was no need to even use it?What if our animals were so resistant to parasites that the use of these was no longer necessary. There are cattle that are resistant and with pasture and grazing rotation, it has become a thing of the past for many. What I found out by using neighbors horse manure and cattle manure from stores I was killing my soil, with these unknown chemicals. I now use only what I raise and grow. I try to not bring in any fertilizers that the animals are using these products.
Salt. many use salt and are unaware of it as an ingredient in a product. Read the label. Killing weeds with salt will also kill the microbes and the worms. Some people with heavy snow, salt their roads and sidewalks. Read labels and use no salt on your soils.
Vinegar. This kills indiscriminately and spreads. If you use agriculture strong acid vinegar use it carefully and with caution.
Chlorine. This is added to water to kill Microbes. And during the summer hot season when you turn your tap on you can smell the chlorine. Yes, it is a necessary thing to keep our population safe from waterborne illness. So how do we not get it on our soil?. There are filters to remove chlorine that are put on at the hose bib, and even your home facet and shower. Or fill large containers and let it “Defuse” in the air for a few days, then water.
Dehydration. Soil microbes will dehydrate, dry out and die. Placing green plant material and abundant roots that hold moisture will keep water in the soil. By adding a layer of mulch we also keep the soil temperatures lower and moisture under the mulch. Remember No Bare Soil.
Tilling. Only till when absolutely necessary. And yearly turning only depletes the soil. No-till farming and gardening have had a strong resurgence. And simply by, Not disturbing the soil our “Web of life” will benefit in our ability to grow abundantly and harvest the foods we are working so hard to grow.
7. Starving. Our soil need to be fed, carbon and water and air. Keep it simple, Compost as close to nature as you can, use nitrogen-rich cover crops, keep it moist and as the microbes and worms reestablish our soil “Will” become aerated and as I like to say “Fluffy”.
I hope the 7 microbe killers have given you your “Awhaw” moment and help your garden soil to revive and flourish.
Growing green with Jannie