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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Spaceship Earth

Oct 01, 2020 12:00AM ● By Russ Henry

AdobeStock ©M.Jenkins

Look down. Whatever you are doing, stop; go outside, find a patch of ground to stand on and look down at the soil. If you are lucky enough to have a patch of easily accessible earth to stand on, what you are looking at is something truly remarkable.

All alone at the edge of the galaxy, the beautiful blue and green Earth floats through space. While our nearest heavenly bodies are barren chunks of rock, Earth teems with life because of one amazing substance: soil. Without soil to support life, the world we know would be as empty and barren as the moon or Mars.

Soil is the life support system for an amazing spaceship we call Earth. As Earthlings, one of our primary responsibilities is growing healthy soil. Follow these three tips this fall to grow healthy soil in your garden:

1.     Compost – Fall is the perfect time to rejuvenate your soils because soil microbes are most active while soils are cool and damp. Compost boosts soil health by adding beneficial microbes and the organic matter on which they feed. Add one to three inches of compost to your vegetable and perennial gardens every fall after the first frost.

2.     Cutback Cut back hostas, daylilies and annual vegetables otherwise they will turn to mush by spring. Compost or mulch all your cutbacks. Leave native perennials and decorative grasses up through the winter. They’re lovely as they catch the first few snowfalls, and the bees use them to make nests in the spring.

3.     Rake Rake leaves off the lawn where they would smother the grass and onto the garden where they are a free source of mulch. Do not chop them up because some butterflies and moths make cocoons in leaves and rely on the leaves all winter before they emerge in the spring. Use leaves as mulch between perennials and under shrubs and trees.

A vast and complex web of life grows soil health worldwide, keeping plants, animals and people growing strong. Our backyards are more than a piece of land— they are our connection to the most incredible substance ever conceived: soil. So long as there is healthy soil, there will be life on spaceship Earth.

Russ Henry, Minnehaha Falls Landscaping

Russ Henry is the owner of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping and founder of Bee Safe Minneapolis and advocates every day for healthy ecosystems. Enchanting landscape designs, clean water, compost, urban farming, healthy food, pollinators, soil health, rain gardens and native plantings are all part of Henry’s work. For more information, visit