- Identify aspects of good healthy soil
- Describe the general process to maintain good soil
Well, that simply couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, soil – good soil – is alive and teeming with activity. Good soil is home to millions if not billions of bacteria and other microorganisms. Its structure is designed to hold water and oxygen that support the living critters that call it home. It’s comprised of a well-balanced mix of clay, sand, and silt. And the healthiest of soils have stable organic matter, commonly known as humus, that can be hundreds of years old. Yes, good soil is anything but dirt. It’s far more than a dead or dying medium. It’s the source of life and powered by life itself.
Good soil is a miracle that is much less complicated than one might think.
But this miracle of life represents a delicate balance. If it swings too far in one direction or the other it can quickly become a barren wasteland, unable to support much life at all. But there is always hope because good soil can be built by the garden craftsman. Over time, organic matter decays releasing nutrients that are then available to young plants. Those plants mature, fruit, die and return their unused potential back to the soil for the next generation. Good soil – and the maintenance to ensure it continues that way – is the product of a cycle. That cycle is one that can be managed by Students, gardeners, and farmers with just a little knowledge and the desire to have an impact.
Tools & Materials
- Raised Planters with soil
- Water retention
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by asking “What makes good soil.” Describe the various biota and attributes of soil that make up “good soil”.
Activity (10 minutes)
Gather the Students around the raised planters and have them each grab a handful of soil. Ask them to describe what they see and feel. Can they discern any specific attributes of the soil such as water retention, structure, or texture? Can they identify any elements of organic matter?
Discussion (20 minutes)
Review each of the vocabulary words with the Students and use the soil in the raised planter for demonstration purposes. These terms are vital to understanding how the raised planters and the soil in them support plant life so be certain to provide as much detail about their function as possible. Then ask the Students how good soil can be built or maintained. What can we do to improve the soil and how it functions?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you can describe what makes good soil?
- Now that you understand the attributes of good soil, how many of you think you could tell the difference between different samples?
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