It’s important to have a diversity of soil organisms to create a healthy and functioning soil ecosystem. All the different types of animals play an important role in cycling nutrients (like carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus) and returni [...]
In this article we introduce soil bacteria, which are tiny single-celled organisms and by far the most numerous of all the soil microbes. A teaspoon of healthy soil can contain up to 3 billion bacteria—roughly equivalent in mass to 5 big dairy [...]
We regularly introduce you to one of your underground friends. This week we show you how they all fit together into an amazing, complex and intriguing world beneath your feet – the soil food web. Read the article in Summer - Week 3.
When growing fruit trees it’s vital to have good populations of fungi in the soil. Without adequate fungi trees will struggle to gain the nutrients required for good health. There’s plenty we can do to encourage good fungal growth—by looking a [...]
The very basis of growing great organic food is to have healthy soil, so in this article we introduce a few simple tests you can do at home—for little or no cost—to assess the state of health of your soil. This will help you get to know your s [...]
When watering your fruit trees, the aim is to keep enough water in the soil so the roots always have access to water, without letting the soil get too dry or too wet. This week we explain how to use tensiometers, a simple water monitoring too [...]
Protozoa are the next step up the food chain from the single-celled bacteria and fungi. The most common ones that exist in our soils are flagellates, ciliates, and amoeba and, on the scale of these things, are quite large (mostly 0.1–0.5 mm!). [...]
There are lots of things you can test your soil for, but unless you have a specific reason to do so, it’s not usually worth spending much money on it. There are a few simple tests you can do at home, plus three main types of diagnostic tests y [...]
A green manure crop is usually a mix of fast-growing annual plants that are grown for soil improvement. As soon as the crop is tall enough, and before it flowers, it is either dug in or chopped off and left on the surface of the soil to add or [...]
Fruit trees rely on stored nutrients for flowering, initial root growth and fruit set in spring (this nutrition was provided by the microbes in the soil, and any compost or fertiliser you added last autumn). As they move into spring, the store [...]
Here’s a quick checklist for newly planted trees to tick off before they start growing, to make sure you’re giving them the best possible chance of success. Read the article in Winter - Week 10.