Dirt and how to tame it

Hi Folks,

Yeah, I know, I only posted a HUGE post yesterday so why is narf7 posting again…so soon…when we all know that she is completely allergic to posting any more than once a week? Well you see its all about the soil. NOT the bass (that is another, more humiliating post for when I am feeling less fragile about my bum and more proactive ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). You see soil is incredibly important. It’s not just the stuff that we tut-tut and keep trying to keep out of our homes, it’s not just something to walk on, it’s actually the medium for our survival and the mode in which all of our food plants are able to assimilate nutrients so that we, in turn, are able to assimilate the heck out of a burger or big salad. Soil IS important. It is vitally important and we all need to start treating it with the respect and attention that it so rightly deserves. Why is it that anything really important tends to get shuffled under the carpet (no pun intended ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) if a massive profit can’t be made out of it? There is no time for narf7 to get on her soapbox here, we all need to be thinking about how to give back to our soil to ensure a good future for our children and our grandchildren.

So how do we do this? Well composting is a good start. Not only are we reducing landfill but we are injecting our soil with new nutrients and giving the soil organisms something to tapdance about. Lay down the compost and the worms start to tango…dig in a bit of chook bedding with tasty manure and all kinds of insects move in and start to party. Your soil will be alive with happy microorganisms and that’s just the start. What about finding out if your soil is a bit unbalanced. Everything here on Serendipity Farm is unbalanced to a degree including the soil. Ours is acidic which is great for the blueberries, the azaleas and the rhododendrons but some plants just don’t like it here.

Our soil is sparce, is in between rocks and is tied up in massive yellow clay. In order to garden here and to get the most out of our soil we need to either dig our brains out or think smarter. We prefer the “smarter” option and when we use plants to do our hard work it’s a win-win situation all round. Did you know that comfrey, sweet potatoes and horse radish will dig your garden for you? Did you know that there are many weed species that have very deep root systems (everything has a silver lining) and did you know that many plants make their own nitrogen supplies in the ground and that you don’t have to always add a lot of nitrogen to get quality results in your veggie garden?

Social media has allowed us the dubious joy of being able to hunt for things for free. We don’t have to get out of our pyjamas to hunt down anything that we like but in the wealth of garbage and tweets and meme’s that we find our inboxes and Facebook pages crawling with these days there a little gems. Go hunting for something good for your soil today. You could start by heading over to Robbies gem of a blog and reading up everything that you can about soil as her garden is a splendiferous example of how you can turn “dirt” into life giving soil…


You can also learn to get your hands into dirt…plant a few veggies in some pots and watch them grow. See first hand how the food you eat needs good quality soil to grow and always try to get the least processed and damaging soil amendments that you can. Think smart folks, use what is free to mulch your soil. look after it. Our future depends on it!


39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robbie
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 06:35:05

    WOW–just off the top of your head:-) What the ducks!(http://whattheducks.com/)
    would be Lori’s blog that started this project + she contacted me to help + what an amazing group of people for Bloggers Action Day today-Save the Soil-
    You are amazing Fran!!!!
    + her blog title fits my comment to you=”What the ducks-Fran”…AMAZING-so when will your write your permaculture book from Serendipidity Farm!


  2. Lori Fontanes
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 07:16:58

    Thank you sooooo much Narf77 or can I call you Fran? You have got the true Soil Spirit, I can see!!! Hope you’re having a great season down there & enjoying some warmth for us Northerners. May the worms be with ya! (And hurray for the chooks, too!!!)


    • narf77
      Jan 25, 2015 @ 17:26:02

      Just found this comment in my spam (that I empty approximately once a year). You can call me anything you like so long as you don’t call me late for dinner ;). We are having a really good season with rain through our summer. We usually don’t get much of the sky elixir through our summers so we are making the most of it. Glad to meet someone who loves worms as much as we do (aside from the chooks that is ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). It will soon be your turn to get stuck into the garden and the soil and we can keep the home fire burning on both sides of the planet ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. aFrankAngle
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 08:26:03

    Right on about the importance of good soil … and cheers to composting!!!! … but I’m not surprised that you do. …. vermicomposting is wonderful, especially if it can be maintained outdoors year-round.


  4. Littlesundog
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 09:09:13

    We’ve already got it going on here… every area has it’s problem soil, but there is always a solution. It just takes a little or a lot of “doing” to get it right. I amend various patches here every year. It takes time, and that’s ok. I revel in the successes, and I try, try again with the problem spots.

    Hey, I think it’s a good thing you threw is off-track with this post! I just read your last one and then one hour later and here you are again! I say that’s a good kind of surprise!! ๐Ÿ˜€


    • narf77
      Jan 23, 2015 @ 06:55:51

      I promised Robbie from Palm Rae Potager that I would write something about soil on soil day (21st) and I was late to the party but still on time in the U.S. so I did it ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. Trackback: Bloggers Say: Save the Soils! | What the Ducks!
  6. Kaye Wheeler
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:39:50

    Thanks Fran. Great advice.


  7. Boomdeeadda
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 15:56:32

    You have to start from the ground up to have yourself a healthy garden. When we lived at the lake, total clay too. It took 25 years to amend the flower beds with manure and compost and now I see the new folks aren’t gardeners at all. Drats. I’m going to think about one of those Pyramid shaped planters where the biggest stuff is on the bottom. We have a fenced off storage area that’s pretty sunny. I think I’d be great in there or even on our lower patio. I’d need to get it built because we don’t have a miter saw. But I hope to have something planted this year. You’re a real inspiration! xo K


  8. The Snail of Happiness
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 20:10:07

    Amen to that. I have always intended to leave the soil in my little garden better (and more abundant) than when I arrived. We have made tonnes of compost over the years and reaped the benefits in the form of fruit, vegetables and eggs, Hurrah for happy soil.


    • narf77
      Jan 23, 2015 @ 07:01:34

      Glad you liked this little post. It was somewhat rushed (can you tell? No images? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but I did promise Robbie from Palm Rae Potager that I would write a post about soil for the 21st (even though it was the 22nd here it was still the 21st there) and I did! ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. Chica Andaluza
    Jan 23, 2015 @ 23:48:41

    What a week you’ve had indeed – not sure which post I’m commenting on here by the way! Love the idea of dried cherries…yum! And love that you’re smiling despite slipping in the mud. I really enjoy crime/forensic novels too (am also a fan of CSI which no one else I know gets at all as they think it’s too gruesome!). Is cherimoya what we call chirimoya in Spaina nd custard apple in England? One of Big Man’s absolute favourites but the temperatures where we are in Spain drop too low in winter to grow them, although pals a few km down the mountain nearer the coast have them.


    • narf77
      Jan 24, 2015 @ 03:56:23

      Cherimoya is similar to custard apples but a different species of tropical fruit. I have some custard apple seeds that I am trying to grow as well as some black sapote. I would like all kinds of fruit here and don’t give in easily if someone tells me that I can’t grow something. We don’t get frost here so fingers crossed they love it here. Nothing ventured, nothing gained :). If they grow and fruit I will dehydrate some of the fruit to sent to Big Man ๐Ÿ˜‰


      • Chica Andaluza
        Jan 24, 2015 @ 04:59:00

        Ooh how exciting, will keep my fingers crossed for you that the plants will be happy on Serendipity Farm…and why wouldn’t they be?!

      • narf77
        Jan 24, 2015 @ 05:10:23

        They are currently standing up tall in the glasshouse and will be coddled along till they are ready to plant out when they will be given every chance to hit the bigtime. Imagine picking your own custard apples! Yummo ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 20:54:38

    It’s funny but I’ve had the same thoughts running through my brain these last few days. It’s a great moment when you start to garden and greater yet when you grow your own food but the REAL magic starts when you recognise the difference between soil and dirt. I was a dirt gardener until I realised that dirt is the soil that comes inside on shoes and clothes and then dies. Dirt is dead soil. Soil, as you say, is alive. Alive with insects and bacteria, fungi and all sorts of mycorozia (which I cannot spell, nor pronounce).
    We’ve been buying in our soil. It’s expensive and it’s crap. It’s not dirt but it’s little better. The pH is way out and its water repellent so we have to work hard to improve it but the purchased soil that is now a year or better yet 2 years on is rich with humous, alive with worms (when my chooks don’t scarf the lot down their greedy beaks) and grows some great veggies.
    Maybe I’m slow on the uptake but it’s only now that I TRULY realise the value of GOOD soil vs soil. And better yet, i look forward to GREAT soil tremendously.
    My worm farm needs feeding but the vermicompost is going great. We don’t compost much but we do feed fruit and some veggie scraps to the goats and almost all other scraps to the chooks who both provide us with compost fodder. Nitrogen berries as I call the goats deposits are fabulous. The chooks clean up the goats leftovers and the leftovers from the chooks is nitrogen rich, finely tilthed compost that either goes carefully around plants as a top dressing or when its rich with hay or straw, into the compost bays to rot down to black gold. We send precious little to landfill that is organic in nature these days and it feels good.


    • narf77
      Jan 25, 2015 @ 04:04:41

      I think that’s the important thing in this teeny little post (aside from I managed to get it done in time ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) that when you feed the soil, you are feeding yourself. Metaphorically in that you become more content in knowing that you are doing the “right thing” as well as being in line with nature and how she works but also the food you grow with that soil is nutrient dense and you are literally feeding yourself when you feed the soil. I compost heaps of veggie scraps because as a vegan I eat a lot of veggies. My chooks are very fussy about what goes into their craws and inspect it before eating. Just threw out all of the soaked cherries (48 hours) from Steve’s cherry wine. I tasted them and they were not bad but the chooks, after pecking at one or two abandoned them. I am guessing the possums had a feast last night! My girls are spoiled as they free range all day over the 4 acres so they get lots of insects and grass and anything else that they fancy. I am building up more soil with my buckets of scraps, leftover potting mix, chook bedding straw (when I can remember to clean out the coop ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) etc. I guess we all do it differently using what is at hand but thats what makes it exciting, the results are different and create new soil biota ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Linne
    Jan 25, 2015 @ 13:46:22

    Amen to this, sister! You are a good example of taking what you have and building it up. In the end, people like you are doing what happens naturally; just speeding up the process. On another large scale, Colette from Bealtaine is a fantastic example of what is possible. As is Robbie and so many more here. Our Rabid Little Friend, too. LOL Save the earth has new meaning these days, doesn’t it? ~ Linne
    p.s. will comment on that humongous post later on. Am not ready for Mum’s movers on Tuesday, as there have been weird SNAFUs (maybe I’ll write a story about all this and post it later on) and then today I was under the weather for most of the day. So will work late tonight and all day Monday and it will be done . . .
    Anyway, a long explanation of why I have no time LOL Compost on, my friend!
    ~ Linne


  12. cityhippyfarmgirl
    Jan 26, 2015 @ 17:18:11

    Sound soil advice Ms Narf. Compost…it’s a funny thing to look forward to from city dwelling gal…but I am!


  13. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 04:19:04

    I love the fact that you genuinely appreciate all that the soil has to offer! Honestly, I watched a documentary about just that years ago- It might have been called “Dirt” but I don’t quite remember- and I swear, it actually made me cry. How many people would end up crying after watching a documentary about soil? Sheesh… Anyway, that’s all to say that I’m glad I’m not the only one who cares about it so much!


    • narf77
      Jan 27, 2015 @ 04:23:41

      Finding communal dirt beneath our fingers is another little community building thing Hannah :). Guess who just picked up a spinning wheel the other day for a song and who is going to spin her own wool to make her little amigurumi critters from now on? :). Just had to share that with you as your amigurumi is fantastic. If I ever manage to spin something reasonable, I am going to send you some ๐Ÿ™‚


  14. Tandy | Lavender and Lime
    Jan 27, 2015 @ 16:34:08

    I seem to be able to tame my dirt, but my dogs like to lie in the vegetable garden, eating what ever is ripe, or flattening what ever is small ๐Ÿ™‚


    • narf77
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 03:01:37

      That’s dogs for you! Mine tend to run through our garden flattening everything in their pathway so tend not to be allowed in where my precious babies are ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. Sue Dreamwalker
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 08:55:19

    Brilliant the soil is the most important aspect of good gardening.. A shame many farmers are not doing just that.. They are soaking it with chemicals and the veggies being grown no longer hold nutrients but a host of herbicides ..
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post


    • narf77
      Feb 03, 2015 @ 09:05:44

      Hanging onto outdated and desperately unhealthy practices when you know that they are not doing your soil (therefore your profits) or your sales margin any good is just stubborn stupidity and clinging to doing things for habits sake only. Learning, adapting and moving on is true staying power and the farmers that do that will succeed and prosper. We consumers aren’t as easily fooled as we once were and now that we know what they were doing in the name of profit to our food supply, they won’t get away with it again so easily!


      • Sue Dreamwalker
        Feb 03, 2015 @ 22:59:03

        True… We were talking to another allotment holder who told us of another allotment association which provided better deals, ( Seeds, compost ground covering, netting etc than the one on our Allotment Plots ) They also had a communal veggie shop there where people could buy fresh produce of donated over grown crops on the allotments so they didn’t go to waste.. He told us a Farmer went regularly there to get his fresh veg.. When he was asked why he would want to that as he grew carrots and potatoes etc.. His reply he knew what had gone into the ground the chemicals etc.. and wouldn’t eat them.. Now that is telling you something!…. And all of those toxins are being filtered down into the water table etc… Makes me VERY Cross… But all We can do is grow our own veggies and Keep as organic as possible..
        Many thanks for the great reply xxxx

      • narf77
        Feb 04, 2015 @ 03:01:34

        Are you thinking of going to the other allotment? I hear that allotments have waiting lists. That just goes to show you that what mainstream veg are being exposed to is way beyond what they should be and if the farmer was avoiding them you can only begin to imagine how bad it is ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      • Sue Dreamwalker
        Feb 04, 2015 @ 05:42:14

        No, we are quite happy with the allotment plot we have and have gardened there for many a year.. Its just that on each allotment there is a voluntary group of people who will run the communial ~Garden Shed~ as we call it.. where we can purchase cheaper seeds they order, seed potatoes and compost and other gardening things.. Its just that the man who has been running ours, is getting on in years and does not always open the ‘Shed’ when its supposed to.. Yet he is unwilling to relinquish his role.. The other garden association is better run and better organised.. But in March there is a new election of volunteers and so we know a younger candidate is up for taking it on.. So hopefully things will change.. And yes the farmers I think KNOW how bad their soil and crops are contaminated.. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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