Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life

You can usually spot a gardener by the tell-tale bit of dirt under her fingernails.  I try to wear gloves, but most days I end up with my hands deep in the soil while weeding, thinning or planting.  I love the feel of sun-warmed soil and the smell of damp earth after a rain.  Soil is the life of our garden and we work hard all year to improve it.

We add organic matter to our soil by composting our kitchen vegetable scraps and garden trimmings.  Composting may seem like a lot of work, but we have a system that makes it easier. Our compost bins are right in the garden, so we don’t have to move finished compost!  Each year we let one bed “rest” and that’s where the compost bins are placed. Ours are made of pallets held together with tie-wraps so they can easily be taken apart and moved at the beginning of each season.  Then we work the finished compost into the bed.  Anything that hasn’t decomposed we put in the bin in its new location to start the process all over again.

Last year we tried something new! Because we lose the growing space in the resting bed we decided to turn the compost bin walls into a mini garden by placing a piece of rain gutter in the space between the boards. Here is a picture of peas growing on the compost bin wall.

I also love having flowers in the vegetable garden, so we hung a piece of gutter to look like a window box.

In addition to peas we harvested scallions, radishes, beets and cilantro from the top of our compost bins!  The flowers really filled in and the veggies did just great.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations declared 2015 the “International Year of Soils.”  (IYS) I like the idea of our work to improve the soil in our garden being part of a world-wide effort! The IYS 2015 aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. You can read more about this initiative and what it accomplished at <a href=””></a>

“We need healthy soils to achieve our food security and nutrition goals, to fight climate change and to ensure overall sustainable development. You can count on FAO’s  commitment and active participation in this effort.”


José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General

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