Feeding the Soil

A healthy garden has a healthy apetite. Regular and balanced nutrition is essential to its health and can benefit more than merely merely productivity. It can also help to minimize the impact that even your organic soil amendments may have on the delicate balance of the surrounding landscape and the biodiversity of its microbial life.

By timing the application of any amendment with the cyclical periods of natural nutrient deficit or surfeit in the soil, gardeners can support both plant vitality and soil ecology. At UC Berkeley, a team of researchers led by Timothy Bowles, a doctor of ecology and professor of agroecology, has been focused on helping small organic farmers make more informed decisions about soil-nutrient management , in particular which types of organic fertilizer are safest, and how to time its application effectively on biologically diverse organic farms.

According to Bowles, the current research on plant-soil-microbe interactions will help us make the transformation from an agricultural system based on synthetic inputs, to one that is grounded in more sustainable and systemic paradigms and processes.