Tag Archives: soil

Healthy soil is not just a mound of dirt. Rather, it consists of air, water, mineral particles, organic matter, worms, and other beneficial soil life. What makes this web so interesting is that when they all work


Soil texture is the mineral content of soil.

together, it is a little bit like a machine–a machine that grows healthy plants.

Each of these elements works together like finely calibrated parts of a machine to grow healthy plants. If any one of these “parts” are out of whack, the entire soils structure is disrupted. Compaction is a big problem, as soil that has been compacted means there is less room for roots to grow.

Soil Composition

The combination of sand, silt, clay, organic materials and pore spaces fo

The classic textbook example of ideal soil.

r air and water describe soil composition. These spaces are particularly important because they allow roots and soil organisms to move.

Beneficial bacteria glue mineral and organic material into soil aggregates (bricks), while larger fungi act as the mortar that holds them in place.

Soil Compaction

Compaction is a big issue and can enable lawn diseases to thrive. Here are some other outcomes that result from compaction:

  • Drainage and absorption of rain and irrigation water are limited.
  • The lawn is very susceptible to drought conditions.
  • Lawn growth will be thin and the grass plant will be unhealthy and allow openings to broad-leaf weeds.
  • Nutrient cycling will reduce.

Soil Aeration

State of the art aeration equipment, the rotating tines vibrate and break up compaction.

Sometimes, working with soil life is not enough to properly aerate your lawn and mechanical aeration is needed to correct compaction. There are many pieces of equipment available to professionals but after research and careful consideration, Heidelberg Farms has added an Aera-vator to the soil toolbox. Harvard University’s Organic Maintenance Program has been using the Aera-vator on campus with great success. Urban college campuses receive a lot of foot traffic and the soil can become very compact. In the typical family lawn, aeration can help soften your playing field and keep your lawn looking great.

Aeration is included in two of our From the Roots Up! Organic Lawn Programs. Call us today at (603) 501-9919. These starter programs have up-front pricing and we are happy to answer your questions.


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The snow is completely gone now and spring/summer is trying to arrive, which means it is time to think about the soil.

Start with the soil

Shouldn’t we first start to think about greening our grass? Well, no, because it starts with the soil. Think about your lawn like your house. If all you do is repaint the exterior of your house without ever addressing the plumbing and electrical issues that persist, you are going to be in a world of hurt. You need to build up the infrastructure of your house to really take the best care of it–and this same thinking applies to your lawn.

Currently, the soil is probably pretty cold and not yet at 55 degrees, which is optimal for biological life to begin to retake its foothold beneath your grass. A healthy soil supports a large and active population of microscopic, beneficial organisms. Healthy soil should be free of compaction, pesticides and other toxins and it should contain a proper balance of organic matter and nutrients.

Why should soil matter to me?

We don’t want to be overly dramatic here, but the answer is ‘everything.’ The life in your soil is related to the microbial life on your skin and in your stomach. In fact, there is substantial research that shows that natural environmental biodiversity has beneficial health effects on children and adults. High diversity in the vegetation on the earth around your home has been correlated with higher diversity of personal skin ‘microbiota’ and lower rates of skin allergies.

Yes, we all want a green lawn–but if you are using toxins or synthetic fertilizers you are actually killing the biodiversity of life in your soil, which negatively impacts you. It affects your kids and the elderly even worse, as they are less resistant to disease.

Okay, so we mislead you a little and did not talk about how to start working with your soil. Stay tuned to our next blog where we will provide some pointers and things to keep in mind?

Have a question? Call us at (603) 501-9919. Let’s work together.

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Recently, I had a chance to write a column for the Ecological Landscape Alliance on a few things, but primarily the role of soil.

SoilI cannot stress it enough. Anything we do in our yards must begin with it. This is especially important right now, as we begin to see those standard commercials with chemical fertilizers and smiling homeowners and unnaturally green yards. Quick solutions make your yard green, but they also kill what is in your soil. It is not a sustainable solution nor is it right.

Land life began 400 million years ago, which means the host of characters in our soil began to build relationships and ways to communicate with each other long before humans ever got it in their head that they could “rule the world.” Soil life builds upon itself, creating more soil. It filters and cleans the water we drink. All of the water on this planet was here before the earth was even formed and half before the birth of the sun.

Applying Soil Principles

By watching and learning from nature, we can begin to restore the health of the soil as well as regain our own health and that of the planet. We can scale these processes from small containers of herbs in the kitchen window to lawns and vegetable gardens.

Instead of reductionist theories of feeding plants and killing bugs, we can replicate natural growing cycles. Soil life is made up of bacteria and fungi and the nematodes and protozoa that eat them. It includes mycorrhizal fungi, and myriads of other organisms that all rely on the exudates from plant roots and the natural replenishment of organic matter.

Unfortunately, humans have done a lot of damage to the soil over the years. Many of these soil organisms are currently missing, but it isn’t too late to reverse the damage we’ve done.

This is where places like Heidelberg Farms comes into play. By being mindful of the types of mulches, composts, amendments, and fertilizers we use, we can strengthen soil life and grow healthier plants. Of course, we also must eliminate pesticides.

I can help homeowners restore this balance. Call me at (603) 501-9919 or email me at heidelbergfarms@gmail.com. mention this blog and I’ll take 10% off my From The Roots Up organic lawn care programs.

Let’s work together. Stay tuned for more blogs this early spring on watering tips, more on the importance of mycorrhizae fungi and more!

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Small in size but with a large population, Holland is a nation with intensively farmed cropland, which led to a 6-year experiment with the results published just last month in the journal Nature Plants.

Healthy soilIn this experiment, Martijn Bezemer, a biologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology Netherlands, began to inoculate degraded soils with dirt from healthy ecosystems. The idea was similar to what doctors do when treating intestinal problems by transplanting gut microbes from a healthy individual into a sick patient.

The results from the experiment revealed that small soil inoculations from grassland/heathland could help determine which plants would thrive in the future. What the experiment also confirmed is that the soil is not just a lifeless pile of earth. It is full of symbiotic fungi in plant roots, which help plants extract vital nutrients. Other microbes break down decaying plants and animals and replenish the materials used by the plants.

One person’s soil may not be another

Other research has recently revealed, though, that microbial populations are actually hyper-local with soil varying wildly from location to location and at different elevations at the same mountain, for example. This is a development in our understanding no one could have anticipated.

In fact, Noah Fierer, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been quoted as saying, “Yet 80 percent of the soil microbes in Central Park are still undescribed. There’s a lot of diversity to reckon with.”

What this means is that two different ecosystems, even if they are close to one another, could have vastly different microbes in their soil. Plants could survive a drought because of the unique mix of symbiotic microbes in the dirt around it. Plant that same plant in the wrong soil and it just might die.

Other findings

In Bezemer’s experiment, he found that the transplanted soil also prevented weeds and other non-desired plants from overtaking the new system before native species could take hold. Another result was that it was discovered that just small amounts of healthy soil could get a system reoriented onto a new path. For the experiment to work, the old topsoil had to be removed, too, which researchers say is because it ensure that existing microbes do not compete with the ones in the transplanted soil.

Soil is life

While concerns remain that to revive an ecosystem might require an incredibly large amount of soil, recent experiments in microbiology are quite clear in their findings. Complex and fully alive (and still quite mysterious to scientists), soil is critically important for ecosystem health.