Get Microbes Working for You!
Biodiversity Below Ground Promotes Healthy Life Above Ground
Diversity is required in all areas of life for flourishing, resilient, thriving communities. As our above ground communities continue to grapple with this important lesson, we need to apply these same learnings to our underground communities too.
Diversity in the soil is just as important as it can affect the health of your plants, and the health of you and your family too. Why? Because ultimately the diversity in the gut microbiome is natural and needed for good human health, especially for our immune systems.
Biodiversity in Soil is Necessary
Soil is an ecosystem community similar to a thriving local neighbourhood. These communities have a diversity of players filling individual roles that contribute to a greater synergy, a greater whole than the individual parts.
When soil has a wide diversity of microbial life (e.g., bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, micro-arthropods and more), it is able to sustain huge amounts of biomass within a very small area. These players nurture the soil, helping to protect your plants and improve their ability to fight off pathogens.
Soil biodiversity also prevents soil compaction, which hinders the flow of nutrients to your plants. A diversity of organism sizes and functions creates different size micro & macro-aggregates, which help the soil hold water. If soil organisms are deprived of what they need to thrive then they are unable to help your plants get all that they need to survive and thrive.
Benefits of Maintaining Diversity in Soil
Every plant needs slightly different soil and environmental conditions as well as unique nourishment. These needs vary across the lifetime of each plant, and their life cycle. In part these needs depend on the successional stage the plant falls under. For instance:
- Early successional-stage plants prefer bacterially dominated soil. This is true for brassicas and kale, and (more generally) annual plants.
- Later successional-stage plants prefer a fungally dominated soil. This includes perennial plants and all types of trees.
As a grower, having soil with diverse life means you can grow many different types of plants in very close proximity, without them competing for - or missing out on - nutrients. In fact, your plants can grow stronger together as they share resources, and use sugars to feed the microbiology in the soil that tailor it to their needs.
Make sure the soil you use to grow food crops has a healthy and biodiverse underground community to ensure better nutrition for your plants, and your gut microbiome too once you eat your home-grown fruits and vegetables.
How to Improve Biodiversity in Soil
To have a thriving soil community, it’s necessary to take steps to protect and feed all types of living organisms in the soil. As a start, make sure to follow the guidelines provided in our other blog posts:
- cover up bare soil,
- stop using chemicals,
- avoid digging into the soil structure, and
- use all-natural mulching techniques.
Next, carefully consider all the components in your garden soil to maximize the diversity of materials:
a) Mix up soil materials
Use a diverse set of inputs for your garden soil. Instead of one type of potting soil, use multiple different types of inputs to provide different food sources for different types of microorganisms. For example, if you’re purchasing bagged potting soil, be sure to add some coffee grounds (not too much though due to high levels of nitrogen), find some dried leaves or yard waste to mix in, straw mulch, wood chips, cardboard, shredded paper, coconut coir, coffee chaff, can all be sourced at low cost and mixed into the soil. Ideally when looking at the soil there should be a variety of sizes, shapes, colours and materials.
b) Plant a variety of crops
Monoculture – the practise of farming one crop only on giant areas of land as in conventional chemical agriculture – is the worst for long term soil health! Planting a diverse variety of crops within the same space helps promote soil biodiversity. Also, the type of crops you plant can either take a lot of resources, like corn which is a heavy feeder, or fix nutrients in the soil, like legumes (peas and beans) that act like natural fertilizer.
c) Match up companion plants
Certain crops prefer to be planted alongside particular buddies as they work well together – known as companion planting –, and some plants you want to keep separated. For instance when planting tomatoes, you can improve plant growth and repel bugs by planting basil, garlic or parsley beside your tomato plant. Whereas dill, cabbage, fennel or broccoli planted beside tomato plants can seriously hinder their growth. Planting flowers, such as marigolds (calendula), lavender, sunflowers, and chamomile, within or around your veggie garden can also increase the chance of attracting beneficial insects while repelling pests.
Once you have set yourself up for diversity success, all that’s left to do is add your Jocelyn’s Soil Booster Worm Manure naturally full of a diverse array of microorganisms, who will immediately feel at home and get to work in their new community.
Biodiversity in Soil Promotes Diversity in Life
Keep your soil healthy by promoting microbial diversity. Having healthy soil helps maintain healthy ecosystems and human health. Jocelyn’s Soil Booster Worm Manure has the diversity of underground players that will bring your soil’s ecosystem community to life, so you can maximize your growing space and minimize your efforts, and get your plants the nutrition they need.