“Of course you have terrible soil problems in your country. What do you expect when you call it dirt?”
(p.71. Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. 2nd ed. Toby Hemenway)
It’s too late! A huge amount of what we now have here in the US is actually ‘dirt’ because we have completely depleted, even destroyed the soil. In many places there isn’t any soil left at all. The difference between dirt and Soil is that soil is alive! Dirt is inorganic matter. Soil consists of inorganic matter plus millions of organisms — actinomycetes, microbes, protozoa, fungi, bacteria,viruses, algae, mites, worms, beetles, nematodes, worms, slugs, plant roots and more. Soil is a congregation of critters within a bed of organic waste and inorganic matter.
In healthy soil there is an ongoing drama and dance of life, creation and death occurring among all of those creatures and that is what creates soil. It is a complex and fascinating process involving many stages. When that process is intelligently cultivated through proper and natural soil management, we and all those other critters get food that is healthy nourishing and nutritious.
That’s the Pay Dirt! Author, farmer and Naturopath Penny Kelly says, “ . . . a major part of learning to heal yourself comes when you begin to understand the connection between the soil and the stomach . . . healthy soil equals healthy plants, healthy plants equal healthy people, and it is your re-connection to the soil of the earth that will provide the foundation for your healing.” (P.42. “Getting Well Again Naturally.” Penny Kelly, ND. 2010).
How can you transform dirt to soil for what you are growing or want to grow? One of the simpler and more accessible ways is vermiculture – composting with worms. Worms are masters of creating the beginnings of rich soil. Vermiculture is non-labor intensive and can even be done in an apartment. You can get a worm composter from Gardeners.com or at other places. Gardener’s says: “Worm compost has ten times the nutrient levels of regular compost.”