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rescuing topsoil

Discussion in 'Composting & Soil Building' started by flowerbug, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. Jul 18, 2018

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

    Oct 15, 2017
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    mid-Michigan, USoA
    while i'm wandering philosophical...

    it's worth it's weight in gold, over the long term it can give beyond that in return. so treat it well and consider how to keep it and improve it...

    today while weeding i was pondering how i've changed my attitude towards weeding. used to consider it a rather mundane chore and not all that interesting.

    yes, sure, it's work and it takes time and there are many other things i could rather be doing (reading a book, drinking iced tea on a hot day, etc.), but in the end i've usually got some plants i'd like to see again and like to see how they are growing and interacting with the neighboring plants. some are annuals and others are perennials or biannuals. in some gardens i want a mix of all of them.

    to sit there and figure out which plants are weeds. which weeds or other plants to remove and why. which have seeds and have to either get the seeds removed or not, or which plants can go in the worm food bucket and those that must go to the weed pile for the animals and whatever to deal with until i can ever get back there and recover the soil again. some are just left on the ground in the garden as mulch (with the roots turned up to bake in the sun).

    favorite worm food plants are the legumes with a good N percentage. the legumes/clovers. most i don't even mind if they have some seeds on them other than the long stringy yellow clover that gets black seeds. those i'll remove the seeds if i see them. the red, white or purple clovers i don't care if they have seeds or not. the birdsfoot trefoil i'm trying to cut back on so i'm removing those as much as i can before they get to the seed stage. alfalfa i like, i'll leave a few of those here or there as a garden plant. and of course many other plants too which are all interesting or useful, some i'll leave. the edible purselane, the wild strawberries, some of the self-seeding turnips or radishes... other ground covers...

    the plants that go to the worm farm i don't have to worry about what happens to any soil on those roots. it's all going to end up back in the gardens one way or another eventually.

    in the end though i'm trying to guard and protect as much of our topsoil as possible. even if i'm not going to be around in 50yrs later. all i have to do is look at the surrounding farm fields, the destruction of the tropical forests, Haiti, the Middle East or many of the other areas of the world where they've not done much or cared for the long term, they're back to bedrock, or subsoil or very poor and can hardly support life.

    the good news is that there are very few places that can't support life in some form or another and it can all be recovered given the right treatment. it can start as simply as what you do with weeds and what you do with animals and how you control erosion and water flows or even your local wind patterns.

    the plants capture the energy from the sun and use that in combination with water to mine nutrients, removing those gains from an area and not replacing them will not improve the soil that much in comparison to a garden where you are giving something back. there is some slight improvements due to plants giving off things through their roots and whatever soil creatures are around to take advantage of that, but once you remove the plant you're back to sunlight on bare soil. if you can leave a perennial plant in place and only chop some of it back then you retain the shade and also recycle a lot of the energy the plant has captured. that's why when i pull weeds in a garden i like to leave some behind and also why i want a certain amount of perennial plants around. these also are good places for beneficial bugs to hang out while the rest of the surrounding gardens are being put into annual plant production.

    i'm sure there's other things i can get into here too, but those will have to be in another post... :)

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