Organic September: get your hands dirty!

September 30, 2019 6:28 am Published by Leave your thoughts

We’re going to round off our celebration of Organic September today by getting a little down and dirty. Forget clean eating: right now, we’re thinking about dirt – specifically, about soil and compost!

Get down and dirty with our guide to soil and composting

SOS: save our soils!

Ever wondered why the Soil Association is called the Soil Association? It’s because good soil is the basis of all good (and organic) food. There’s virtually nothing more important on earth than the top two inches of it. Soil is the basic support mechanism for our crops, our trees, our wildlife and our farm animals. Without good, healthy soil, we can’t live good, healthy lives.

Healthy soil is full of organic matter (decomposing plant and animal residues, cells and tissues of organisms, and substances synthesized by these organisms). It has good structure – it’s able to hold water and retain nutrients. It stores carbon effectively, rather than releasing it back into the atmosphere. And it’s wonderfully fertile, allowing crops, plants and trees to grow to their fullest potential, rich in nutrients for the humans and animals that rely on them.

According to the Soil Association, 40% of all soils in the world are now ‘seriously degraded’. They want us to give the health of our soils the same kind of attention we give to air pollution and water pollution.

For them, the answer lies in organic farming. Organic farming doesn’t use synthetic or petroleum-based pesticides or fertilisers. The contamination of the soil – and the water, where such substances run off into waterways– is thus significantly reduced, with the soil remaining clean. The natural organisms are protected, rather than destroyed by ‘scorched-earth’ pesticides.

In addition, organic farmers use crop rotation to build fertility in the soil, as well as to break (naturally) cycles of pests and disease. Monocultural conventional farming, meanwhile, reduces fertility, as does the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals.

Like the Soil Association, Naturally Good Food is a firm advocate for a system of farming and eating that promotes the health of the soil. It’s why we too specialise in organic products – both to eat and to use as toiletries and in your household. Click here to see our full organic range.

Magic soil: make your own compost

Soil is a mixture of tiny particles of rock, dead plants and animals, air and water. You can’t make your own soil – well, not easily – but you can easily add to the organic matter found within your soil, boosting its fertility.

Compost isn’t soil, but it looks like it: rich, dark brown and crumbly. It’s usually made from kitchen and garden waste, and it works miracles in gardens, feeding the soil with a range of nutrients and micro-organisms.

Our occasional partner, Garden Organic, has a brilliant guide here to making your own compost. It tells you everything you might ever need to know. What can you put in? What should you avoid? What’s the very best mix? How long does it take to turn into compost? Which plants most need compost? It gives advice on making or purchasing compost bins and on creating either cool heaps or hot heaps.

It’s not hard to become an expert. As Garden Organic say in their leaflet:

‘Composting just happens. It is nature’s way of keeping our planet clean’.

And that’s why we like it: it’s natural, efficient, cheap and environmentally friendly. If you’ve got any soil at all, give it a boost with some ‘magic soil’ of your own. Get your hands dirty and get composting: to keep your food (and the planet) clean!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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