The email’s subject line, “Celebrate World Soil Day” was an eye-roller and I’m wondering “Is there an appropriate Hallmark card?” But curiosity grabbed hold and I soon was reading the message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Begun in 2002 by the International Union of Soil Sciences, World Soil Day seeks to focus our attention on our most important resource, the ground beneath our feet. In 2013 the UN General Assembly responded by designating Dec. 5 as the official World Soil Day.
This year’s theme aims to raise awareness and calling people to help stop soil pollution. Globally, experts estimate that a third of our soils are irreparably degraded. By 2050 projections estimate our population will reach 9 billion souls; we all depend on the very thin layer of soil enveloping our planet to produce the food we need to survive.
Yet, World Soil Day hasn’t grabbed hold of our global consciousness — there’s little celebrity outrage and no firestorms sweeping social media. My gardening instincts swirl as I ponder how to celebrate Dec. 5. Every gardener knows it’s all about the soil, without it we are doomed to failure.
Next week, Kit will share some great gift suggestions for the gardeners on your list. But what tops my list this year is something no one can give me — loose, well-drained soil. No sugarplums for me: Instead, images of rich, dark, crumbly soil that water flows through at just the right rate are dancing through my head.
Dedication to a few simple practices will help me attain the soil of my dreams. First, keep it covered with mulch to prevent erosion. Second, regularly mix in generous amounts of organic matter. Next, avoid tilling and digging which breaks down soil structure and disrupts the beneficial microbial network essential to productivity. And finally, embrace the message of World Soil Day and be mindful about what you put on the ground — fertilizers, herbicides, pet waste or a discarded cigarette butt all become part of the chemistry of what’s beneath our feet.
Realizing I’ll hardly have a moment to catch my breath between celebrating World Soil Day and gearing up for the holiday season. I’m focusing now on finding the perfect gifts for our friends and family members. I make lists, I rush through stores, I order online, all in the hopes that I can offer a gift that conveys my feelings. Yes, cue the music and the scent of baking cookies, this holiday season I’m after perfection.
In the spirit of perfect gift giving I’ll offer a recommendation for a book I’m currently enjoying. Written by a dear friend Thomas A. Robinson, “Questions of Faith” shares powerful spiritual lessons revealed in everyday events. Tom won my gardening heart writing, “What if my friend’s job in her garden, our job in ours, is not so much to select the seed but to prepare the soil?”
It’s easy to focus on the plants on the surface. With gardening as with so much else in life it’s often the things we don’t see that are really important — the simple things that are worth our attention.
Absent from their gardens, Kit and Lise enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of horticulture and suburban living. More on Instagram @AbsenteeGardener or email firstname.lastname@example.org.