Getting my hands dirty, feeling the soil between my fingers, digging the earth and forking up potatoes are some of my favourite gardening jobs. The satisfaction from producing my own compost is second to none, that dark mix of nutrients and the smell is fantastic!
However, a problem increasingly apparent is how underrated soil has become. It’s one of my main issues when speaking to clients about their gardens and choosing the correct plants. Often it’s about the pH levels and which plants will thrive in those conditions but recently a Client insisted on growing all of his favouite plants in acidic soil and after I spent time giving him plenty of advice, his answer was ‘ it’s just soil, soil is soil isn’t it’. I’ve come across this a few times.
The basis of all gardening and if we want to get deep – life in general – is dependent on soil. We see pretty photos of colourful plants and flowers but very little love given to the soil that’s provided the nutrients to our gardens thriving ecosystems. Perhaps if we talked about soil more, the discussion regarding peat usage would be better understood by everyone and perhaps new, excited horticulturalists in the making will avoid that deflated feeling when their plants die, often for ‘unexplained’ reasons which in many cases is likely to be the soil (amongst others, I appreciate). Another example was from a friend who asked for a planting plan. When I explained I wanted to test the soil, his response was ‘I haven’t buried anything under it you know’!
Research has shown there are health benefits to walking on soil barefoot which may be due to the relationship between our bodies and the electrons in the earth. A review in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health documented that chronic pain sufferers slept better on a grounded carbon fiber mattress. In another study, walking on the soil barefoot helped heart disease, regulation of the endocrine, nervous system and reduced stress.
I think us gardeners have a responsibility to bring soil into the #growrev sphere and deservedly push it up the ranks. It may just look like dirt but the complex system of soil should be unequivocally celebrated. Since we are always trying to encourage people into horticulture, soil is the foundation of that. Perhaps it doesn’t sound exciting enough? I know it’s studied as part of the RHS syllabus but word needs to get out there by other means as well…and that’s us! #soilporn
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