Living soil….some great evidence

Ever since we attended the ACRES conference in December, we have focused on building the soil food web (recap post of conference is here) on our plot. Efforts have not gone unnoticed. Here is what we have been doing to date. We only tilled at the beginning of the year to turn our soil over and prep the beds for planting. Ever since then we have not tilled our soil with the rototiller since tilling disturbs the soil food web that we are trying to grow and build. We have been removing all of the weeds by hand and any veggies that have gone to seed have also been hand removed. We have used our rotary cultivator to prep beds. Finally, we have fed our soil compost teas. All of this has yielded some great looking produce, but we have also had a few failures, so it is always difficult to know what is going on in the soil….unless you sample it and look at it under a microscope. Plus, you need to know what you are looking at and looking for. Enter Marilyn McHugh, resident soil extraordinaire! Marilyn and her husband Chris founded The Hummingbird Project and are currently raising funds to support farmers in India. The campaign, LIVING SOIL SAVES LIVES!, runs through October 1st. Please consider supporting their work and share the link with others. Funds will purchase microscopes and all related lab supplies for ongoing support and training at two new soil labs in India.

Marilyn took some samples of our soil, took pictures of the microbes and shared a nice little recap of her findings. All of this is too awesome not to share. These samples are from various parts of the plot. One area came back with very little organic material and not much life, which didn’t surprise us too much since it’s an area that we haven’t put a lot of effort or time into building up. The nice surprise is to see organisms from multiple levels in the soil food web. Thank you Marilyn for sharing your knowledge with us and letting us share it with others through this blog! We are going to continue building our soil food web and hope to find even more beneficial microbes when we sample in the future.

Soil Food Web (soil symbiotics)
Female nematode
Beneficial fungi
Testate amoeba