Ahh bugs – can’t live with them, can’t live without them!
It’s a fact. Soil cannot be healthy and food cannot be grown with out microorganisms. Therefore, we cannot be healthy without bugs – of all sizes – except for the moment we will focus on the microscopic ones. Microorganisms or the micro-herd as organic gardeners call them include bacteria, fungi and other species. They are extremely diverse and they are everywhere – in water, in soil, in oceans, in air, in rocks and all living things.
The micro-herd are essential for growing food and nutrient. They enrich soil to deliver nutrients to the crops we grow and fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen, in balance with other elements like carbon is essential for the healthy production of crops. Microbes on the roots of plant capture nitrogen and use it for plant growth. The nitrogen that is available in the atmosphere, precipitation, grasses, fertilizers, manures and crops that decay in the fields, is captured by the micro-herd and is transformed into plant food. We depend on these bacterial and fungal organisms to breakdown garden, lawn, food waste and other organic matter and turn it into compost.
Compost is a dark, pleasant – smelling valuable resource that is extremely beneficial for improving structure, drainage and moister control in the soil. It reduces soil erosion and water runoff. It allows roots to easily work through the soil. With compost which is produced by the interaction of the micro-herd with decaying organic material serves as as exceptional organic fertilizer needed to sustain the prolific growth and development of plants, crops, fruits and trees.
Compost made by the micro-heard helps make plants strong and disease resistant, purifies the soil, can help maintain proper pH and provides vast amounts of minerals. When composting, a proper balance of carbon producing brown material must be mixed with nitrogen releasing green material. While the carbons keep the microbes alive as they digest organic material, the nitrogen helps the microbes grow and thrive.
Although, bacteria are considered among the simplest of organisms their origins go as far back as 3,100 million years. Soil would be sterile without them and literally nothing would grow. Nitrogen from the air could not be transformed into plant food, and plants, animals and man could not survive. The number of bacteria needed t maintain life is mind boggling. Consider this – just one gram of garden soil may contain billions of bacteria and other microbes!
Source: The Tormont Webster’s Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary.