Saturday, 8 January 2011

Preparing the Soil

“[C]omposting is... a bridge beyond the industrial age to the ecotechnic future”
(Greer, 209; p109)

The Earth is at the heart of our existence . We are encouraged to “save the Earth”, our responsibility as “nature’s stewards”. What we need to “save” is ourselves, the intricate web of systems that makes this planet suitable for human life. If we don’t, Nature will fill the vacuum we leave with something else (Norman, in Louv, 2010; p296).

It is difficult to comprehend these complex interactions, so instead of looking at the Earth, I’ll start with the land, the soil.

The title of this blog is courtesy of Alastair McIntosh. He, in turn, was gifted the alliterative form by Satish Kumar of Schumacher College (McIntosh, 2008; p49). Soul, soil and society form the triune basis of community. Before we start to think about regeneration on a global scale, we first need to think about it on a local scale; before we do that, we need to reflect on our individual connection to the land.

My first nature tale concerns my love of earthworms, my connection to the soil. As a child, I would spend hours standing in the mud talking. My mother at first thought I was talking to myself, and later found I was talking to the worms. I’m not sure which worried her more. That love of worms continued, and one of the most relaxing and de-stressing activities for me is going out and talking to the worms in my worm-bin. Worms consume organic matter, drawing it into the earth from the surface, mixing and breaking it down. The result is like gold, a rich humus and a worm “tea” that makes a fantastic plant food. By caring for my worms, I’m caring for the associated microbes that are invisible to my naked eye. Using that soil to enrich my pots, my garden, I’m restoring an ecological balance to my mini-landscape. A simple action, immensely satisfying, and one which everyone can try.

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