During the 12 years that Kathy Huckins managed Stearns Farm, she came to know the soil, and the vast and impressive work it did in growing food.  “The soil at Stearns has always received my highest respect for it’s ability to perform, its resiliency to so varied use and its willingness to do its best for us always,” she says. “The members at Stearns owe their gratitude to the soil first and then to those that tend it.” Kathy will talk about tending the soil in “The World Under Your Feet,” at the farm on Sunday May 15 from 2-3 pm.  (Register here:  https://goo.gl/gxcshM. Donation, $5)

Even a seasoned gardener does not usually spend much time thinking about and understanding the many relationships within our garden soil.  We tend to put down some compost and hope for the best.  We take more time planning, seeding and tending the plants that we chose for our gardens.  And when these plants aren’t thriving or they’re infested with an insect we don’t like, we tend to be reactive. We put on on more compost or spray with a commercial product rather than acting from knowledge of the soil’s amazing web of life. There is a whole world functioning under our feet, and it is our job to know, honor, respect and assist it’s work.

In tending the soil, gardeners need to have some practical skills so that they can work in partnership with it.  Kathy will talk about the makeup of the soil and the organisms that live in it. “We’ll slice through some soil and look at its layers,” she says. Kathy’s discussion will cover the following topics:

  • The role of compost, including a brief look at how to create it, its effects on the soil structure, and the value of sheet composting.
  • Soil health indicators and how to keep soil optimal.
  • Good garden practices and the effects on soil life.
  • How to build soil life in your garden with compost, mulches and cover crops.
  • Becoming aware of the negative impact of tilling your soil.

“My hope is that you will leave with a deeper understanding of your soil and the tools needed to keep it healthy and productive,” Kathy says. “I look forward to sharing what I have learned over my years as a farmer and now as a gardener.”

This post was updated on April 26, 2016 to fix a broken link.