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Keep Mother Nature Covered: 3 Ways to Protect Soil
Bare soil is a common site, from farmer’s fields to front lawns, but it was never meant to be this way! Weeds will move in quickly as one of Mother Nature’s defence mechanisms to protect soil health from the damaging effects of the exposed soil.
Learn more about how elements impact the health of your soil, and three of the best ways to keep your soil covered and healthy (and that don’t require growing weeds!).
How Natural Elements Impact Bare Soil
Ideally, soil would be covered by growing plants at all times to protect it from natural elements such as rain, wind and the heat of the sun. In Canada’s four-season climate, and especially when growing annual crops, this can be difficult.
Soil structure is compacted by each rain droplet that falls directly onto it. When soil becomes compacted, there are not enough pore spaces to hold the oxygen that microbes need to survive. The soil also loses the ability to hold onto water and save it for later when there is no rain.
Wind is also damaging to soil as it can blow off the top layer (the topsoil), and leave microbes exposed to predators. As a result, the nutrients and soil life is impacted. This is even more damaging in small spaces like planters or raised beds, where the soil has a limited ability to replenish itself.
As weather and climate can be unpredictable and vary locally, it is better to keep soil covered. If the snow is already gone on your garden bed, you need to get out there to protect your soil quickly!
How to Cover and Protect Soil
The three best options that urban growers can use to protect the health of their soil are cover crops (aka. growing plants), mulch, and a tarp or plastic membrane. As added benefit all three options will reduce your weed population!
Remember, Mother Nature Doesn’t Like to be Naked!
If soil is of poor quality, the plants and food that grow will also be of poor quality. Regenerative agriculture teaches us how to ensure we have healthy soil, healthy crops and a healthy planet. Always keep your soil protected and “clothed” to ensure microbes are improving soil quality, feeding your plants, trapping carbon and fighting climate change. Remember, Mother Nature doesn’t like to be naked!