But the not-so-dirty truth about dirt is that we can be too clean, says science. Eliminating and washing away beneficial bacteria upsets the human ecosystem and compromises immunity.
The same goes for your garden. Truth be told, soil is not really dirty. It is a rich, biodiverse universe of millions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and good stuff for your garden. We love it. Without good soil, a great garden is nearly impossible.
To get an idea of how important dirt is, compare it to the human health benefits achieved from eating yogurt or blue-veined cheese. Assuming one is not lactose intolerant, the facts are that ensuring healthy biodiversity in the human organism is as important to optimal immunity against disease as is ensuring healthy biodiversity in the soil for plant health.
The kind of biodiversity we like is created by nature. Not just because it’s organic, but because of the way compost – organic diversity – works in and with plant systems. We think of it as a living solution to repair plant damage from extreme bouts of weather or boost garden health and inoculate against disease, not solely as a fertility application.
We’ve experienced measureable results using our own compost tea—a brewed extract steeped in rainwater harvested in a cistern at our facility.
We’re recommending compost tea applications now for winter frost damage. Currently, we’re seeing some serious impact on plant health from the sixth coldest winter on record. While much of the damage is cosmetic (like frozen leaves on Lorapetalum and azaleas), buds can be seen struggling.
The plant kingdom in your own backyard depends on having a healthy soil, and spring is the perfect time to repair winter damage and rebuild your soil. Depending on where your plants have problems, compost tea can be applied to the soil directly or to the plants as a leaf spray.
When used in combination with other good organic gardening best practices, a biologically diverse soil promotes more efficient distribution of nutrients, which in turn reduces the amount of nutrients required, improves soil absorption and drainage, and prevents foliar diseases.
Only after revitalizing the dirt under your garden’s feet, will your plants achieve their full stress-free potential.
Oh, and the good news? You can let your kids go out and play in it. Being outdoors and getting dirty is actually good for them, say immunologists. It’s even better – and safer – when the soil and garden are treated organically.
About the author:
Veteran horticulturist Mary Beth Riddle is a client relations manager at Lambert Landscape Company. She can be reached mobile at 469-939-0248 or firstname.lastname@example.org