Soil is alive!

OK Garden

Home gardens are on the rise with 31% of all US households having their own food gardens. Instead of using chemical fertilizers, kids can improve the structure of the soil and add billions of beneficial microbial creatures to the soil by recycling kitchen and garden waste in a compost bin. Organic matter added to the soil feeds and nourishes the plants, worms, and microbes, creating a balanced ecosystem with drainage and airflow important for healthy roots. The best soils have an even mix of sand, silt, and clay; these sediments in the soil enrich plant roots with minerals and stabilized them in the ground. When trees and plants are grown organically, they provide a healthy habitat for beneficial insects and animals and the soil is alive with microorganisms. Kids can make a compost bin by starting with a layer of soil; add vegetable scraps, fresh grass, weeds; add a layer of dry leaves; and keep a lid on the compost bin. When starting a large backyard garden, families can order a truck load of organic compost from the local soil company. Kids can get earthworms at their local nursery to tunnel underground in their garden, eating fungus, algae, and bacteria growing in the soil. The tunnels the earthworm creates allow water and air to get to the roots of the plants and the worm poop they leave becomes food for the plants. To maintain soil fertility kids can practice crop rotation, growing peas or beans in a planned sequence with other crops. Like air and water, soil is an important resource. Plants and trees keep the topsoil in place. Bare topsoil can be easily washed away by rain and wind and it takes a long time to come back. When kids use kitchen and garden waste to recycle into food for their garden, the soil becomes rich with life and produces food grown for its flavor and nutrition that kids can pick fresh for the next family meal.

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