5 videos on finding, creating and protecting healthy soils

soil health photo
Video screen capture USDA

I've taken a fair few organic gardening classes in my time. More often than not, at some point the teacher will talk about soil testing.

Yet I've met very few gardeners who have actually tested their soil.

Maybe it says more about the crowd I like to hang out with, but most gardeners I know seem more interested in rolling up their sleeves and seeing what happens, than they are in ascertaining the specific pH or nutrient composition of their soil. That's why practical tips on how to tell if you have healthy soil always prove so popular.

Here are a few more videos in a similar vein.

Soil health in just one minute: Look and smell

Despite the dominance of industrial, chemical-dependent agriculture, conventional and organic farmers alike can benefit from understanding the basics of soil science. These simple, short videos from the USDA—part of the Unlocking the Secrets of the Soil campaign—explore simple visual and even nasal tests to assess the health of your soil.

How nature makes soil

I rarely get enough of Geoff Lawton's insights into how we can harness natural processes to enhance the health of our gardens and farms. In this video—created as part of his Permaculture Soils DVD—explains how nature makes soil, and how we can take advantage of her productivity.

Using mushrooms to heal soils

Paul Stamets is a big believer in mushrooms. From spawn-inoculated chainsaw lubricant to cleaning up nuclear contamination, he's been pretty vocal about the potential for fungi to help heal our world. Perhaps one of the most promising applications is in mushrooms' ability to build soils and even clean up pollutants. In this TED talk, Stamets talks about several applications for fungi. At about 8:00, he explains an experiment he was involved in cleaning up diesel-contaminated soils using oyster mushrooms. Not only do the mushrooms break up the hydrocarbons, but they also serve as an attractant for bugs, birds and other wildlife which literally bring the dirt back to life.

Building a DIY worm composter

There can be few better ways to nurture soil life than to add compost. And there are few better composts than fresh, life-filled worm castings. I posted about this video way back in 2009, but it remains one of my favorites. Not least because the Enviromentals put my own passion for composting, dirt and all-things worm-poop related to shame.

Tags: Agriculture | Biodiversity | Farming | Permaculture