Imagine a model of the earth 300 metres! in Diameter: the surface layer of the soilI would be the thickness of an eggshell! This thin, yet incredibly complex, layer hasformed an ecology that regulates itself,and helps to sustain our life on earth. Plants convert sunlight into biomass, create oxygen, absorb COz, help regulate weather patterns, prevent soil erosion andso on – the list is endless!
Yet, the impact of our combined actions on this planet has created life-threatening chain reactions that have caused global survival problems. One of these is severely degraded soil, specifically topsoil.
Plants need topsoil in order lo survive. Soil is made up of weathered rock, stone, clay, sand, dust, which is inanimate, or lifeless. Soil comes to life when it has structure that is formed only when there is organic matter in the soil. Microscopic organisms live inand work on this organic matter and as they digest it, they help to build up the structure of the soil. ln NATURE nothing is thrown away, or is a WASTE product. EVERYTHING in NATURE is recycled and reused – over and over again.
And this is where the amazinq world of earthworms comes in. Earthworms are phenomenal micro- organism-producing factories – they create humus as they are masters of organic waste recycling, soil fertility andorganic growing.
There are more than 3 500 species of earthworms on the planet (of which we have 300 in SA) and all of them help to create topsoil by producing living, healthy and vibrant humus.
To restore lifeless soil, the first step is to add the micro-organisms (e.9. earthworm castings) with a supply oftheir food (e.9. well-balanced compost and mulch from leaves, grass clippings, etc) and to supply moisture.
Earthworms are always present in living soil and help to maintain a neutral pH, Their constant multiplication of micro- organisms ensures healthy, strongplants resistant to pest attacks.
So – all we need to do is to feed the SOIL and the LIFE of the SOIL.
How do we do this?
By adding an organic fertilizer,regularly adding humus/ micro- organisms with earthworm castings and mulching on top with a good-quality compost or mulch. This willprovide an ongoing food source for the micreorganisms to establish in
the soil, which in tum attracts lots of soil earthworms, improves the soilstructure and fertility. This ensures that humus – ^/hich is foodstate nutrition (easily absorbed) for plants – isconstanfly available for the plants’ growth.
ln “MasterChef words: the plants canselect fiom a vast bufiet of balanced foodstate nutients in a refined dining s!y’e as and when they like.
This is especially significant when we have a vegetable garden. Vegetables that are grown organically are nutrientcontrete and in a form that our bodyarl &orb- in foodstate form.
So” vegg*= grown in earthworm- regErrcraEd soil can create renewedhoft& and therefore organic rregeiaHe gardens are extremelytorpormto our health.