• Accokeek Foundation

Digging Into Soil Health

LOGO_IYS_en_Print year of soil

International Year of Soils, recognizing that healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production. According to the FAO, sustainable soil management could produce up to 58% more food, nearly meeting the need to increase global food production by 60% by 2050. So we don’t need more land to feed a projected population of 9 billion, we need healthier land. In celebration of soil, here are a few ideas on how you can make yours healthier and get your garden off on the right foot (or root):

  1. Start a compost pile – An easy way to return vital nutrients to the soil is through a compost pile. It is simple to maintain and will still produce rich humus from your organic waste no matter how much you neglect it. Plenty of household waste that you may not think of as compost can be added to the pile – like cotton swabs, pet hair and  leather to name a few – greatly reducing the amount that sees the dumpster. Contact your state extension office for resources on starting your own backyard or worm bin.

  2. Go organic – By maintaining your soil health through organic practices, you steer clear of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that can rob the soil of nutrients and harm humans over the long term.

  3. Don’t till – Make your life easier and help your soil in the process by not tilling your garden when you plant. Tilling disturbs beneficial soil organisms like worms and fungi, and creates air pockets that make it difficult for plants to find water and nutrients. Instead plant cover crops, use mulches and cover areas to be planted with cardboard and straw to build up, instead of break down, soil habitats.

  4. Lose the lawn – Incorporating permaculture principles, like perenn