What are you giving to your soil?
In this season of giving, I wonder what you have given to the lovely soil that has been producing food for you. Do we give back as much as we take when we harvest? Do we protect it and prevent it from washing away? One of the most important gifts you can give to the world is care of the soil. There is a finite amount of it that is good for growing food and if we have been blessed to have some of that beneath our feet then it is our responsibility to care for it.
You need to be returning nutrients to the soil as the food we eat from the garden is taking some of the soils nutrients to feed us. It is such a balance as so many people put too much compost and manure on that they are making it sick with too much- just like when we overeat at the holidays. Cover crops are one way to give the garden a nice balanced meal. Is there a way you can add some space to your garden so you can always take some of the space and just grow soil food and still get enough food for you? Think also of micro nutrients- the minerals we get in ocean fertilizers- kelp meal and green sand, also some rock dust which is pulverized high mineral rock that gives your soil a slow releasing dose of minerals for years. What have you been feeding your soil lately- think of the different nutrients it might be getting from your fertilizer or compost and then what might be missing- as you get started in 2014 add some of those missing things. Or get a soil test and find out what your soil really needs. I really believe utilizing compost tea and strengthening the soil microbiology is also important.
I just read an article that talked about the importance of soil to human health. There are studies that show that soil full of microorganisms are more likely to produce nutrient dense food. So when we are feeding the soil we are actually feeding ourselves also. When we build great compost for our garden instead of thinking of it as being good for the soil think of how much it might benefit our health. Studies have also found that people who spend time on ecological farms when younger are less prone to allergies- the exposure to lots of microbes (read healthy soil) is good for our health and strengthens our immune system.
Check out the article: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/how-to-eat-like-our-lives-depend-on-it/how-dirt-heals-us
I like to bring greenery into the house this time of year not because of Christmas as much as I spend less time outdoors and I like to have greens around me. The tradition of greenery goes way back and really was about human health also. Imagine long ago in Northern Europe in the dead of winter, no one had bathed for a long time as it is too cold, most of the family stay inside, bringing in pine and fir greens freshens the room, is anti bacterial and is a great mood enhancer.
Find ways to celebrate the holidays that celebrate your gardens abundance- offer gifts from your pantry. Utilize those persimmons that are in abundance still and make some yummy persimmon bread or cookies. Get creative about gifts- offer to help someone start a garden this spring, or make them a worm bin. Find ways to give back to the earth as you give to others. And last but not least kale bouquets brighten the table and celebrate the local abundance of winter. Happy Solstice and hope you have a fabulous new year!