Healthy Soils - Compost, Mulch and the Soil Food Web

Learn about the nature of your soil and how to build organically rich, fertile gardens by working with nature.
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• 83 students enrolled
Instructed by Rob Littlepage Lifestyle / Other
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  • Lectures 10
  • Length 3 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 7/2014 English

Course Description

This course is about the health and vitality of our gardens and of ourselves. The old adage "you are what you eat" is never more evident than it is today. Everything we grow and consume starts with the soil our plants are grown on. It doesn't matter if you're vegan, vegetarian or eat meat - it all starts with soil. This class will show you how to build your garden and landscape soils without the use of synthetic fertilizers. You will learn the reasons and benefits of compost and cover crops, and about feeding the soil to grow stronger, healthier vegetables, fruit and landscapes. Separated into 10 lectures, we'll take the process step by step making it easy for you to follow and transform your garden from one of chemical dependence to one where nature handles much of the work for you.

The course is structured as a series of PowerPoint and video lectures and finishes with a short quiz to reinforce your knowledge and confidence.

You should take this course if you're interested in attracting pollinators to your vegetables and trees. You should take this course if you want to have a better understanding of how to become an organic gardener or landscaper. You should take this course if you want to become a better steward of your land, water and air.

What are the requirements?

  • You won't need any special materials or background knowledge to take this course. All you need is a desire to learn how to grow healthier fruits, vegetables and landscapes

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course you'll have a complete understanding of the life in your soils and how to encourage it to thrive.
  • In this course you'll learn why growing organically is so important
  • In this course you will learn how to do a soils test and why it is so important to our gardens and landscapes
  • In this course you will learn about the soil food web and it's role in healthy soils

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is perfect for both beginning gardeners and for more experienced gardeners and landscapers

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Exploding some Myths

The organic food market has grown to capture 26.7 billion dollars worth of business as of 2010. More and more home gardeners and farms are growing organic produce, fruits, eggs and meat. This course is designed to introduce you to some of the principles of organic gardening and how you can grow your own healthy, nutritious vegetables at home.

Section 2: Building Healthy Soils

Soils are the basis for supplying us with healthy fruits and vegetables.

In this lecture we'll cover the importance of:

  • Why we should garden organically
  • Getting your soils tested - and why
  • What soil texture is and what the "ideal" soil would be
  • Soil structure and its importance
  • Understand the value of organic matter and the soil organisms beneath our feet

Nitrogen Nodules on Hairy Vetch


Soils are the basis for supplying us with healthy fruits and vegetables. In this lecture we'll cover the importance of:

  • Soil organisms - Their role in promoting healthy soils
  • The symbiotic relationship between plants and bacteria and fungi
  • Gain a better understanding of the Soil food Web as described by Dr. Elaine Ingham

There are at least 18 essential elements plants need to grow strong, healthy and thrive. In this lecture I'll give a brief overview of these critical macro and micro nutrients before we delve deeper into the subject in our next three lectures.


Used in larger amounts than the micro nutrients, the nine macro nutrients are critical to plant growth, fruit and flower production and plant health. In this lecture I'll discuss these nine nutrients and their role in our gardens.


The term micro nutrient can be misleading. These elements are just as essential as the macro nutrients, only they are used in required in smaller amounts by the plant. This lecture will give a brief overview of the 9 micro nutrients.


Plants obtain the nutrients they need primarily from the soil, but what keeps these nutrients from simply leaching away during heavy rains and irrigation cycles? Clay and organic matter are able to trap and hold nutrient ions in the soil - plants and microbes are able to release these same nutrients for their own use and benefit. CEC is a way for us to measure our soils fertility.


In this lecture I'll give an overview of the benefits of composting and the value of the end process of composts - humus.


To build soil fertility and add organic matter planting a cover crop is the easiest way to begin. In this lecture I'll discuss why cover crops are so beneficial and offer you some winter and summer planting choices.

Section 3: Conclusion

We've covered a lot of ground and in this lecture I'll give an overview of the important steps you need to take when building the health and vitality of your garden and landscape soils.

20 questions

This is a multiple choice quiz to see how well you remember what we've covered

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Instructor Biography

Rob Littlepage, Landscape Architect & Educator

Robert Littlepage, as his many former students can attest, is a dynamic instructor who brings real-world experience and a touch of humor to his teaching style. His love of teaching and enthusiasm for his topic is a source of inspiration to his students. Mr. Littlepage founded the California School of Garden Design in 1998 to fill a much-needed void. He discovered that other than two-year junior college programs and a few correspondence courses, there was no place in the United States where someone interested in becoming a garden designer could learn these skills quickly and at minimum expense. Rob created the School to provide an opportunity for those individuals to learn necessary skills and to become proficient in Garden Design in a short but intensive period of time. This has lead to his now offering on-line classes through Udemy.

Rob began his career as a forester and a licensed landscape contractor and has had his own design practice for over 30 years, creating gardens for clients throughout California and the surrounding states. His designs have been featured in garden design books and won awards at numerous shows. He studied garden design in England in 1994, and obtained his teaching credentials shortly thereafter. Rob previously taught landscape and irrigation design at Sierra College in Rocklin, California and at the Placer Adult School in Auburn, but decided to open his own garden design school. Both Duncan Heather, Director of the Oxford College of Garden Design and David Stevens, of David Stevens International have collaborated with Rob to present design classes in the United States.

He is a licensed landscape architect in California (#5674) and Louisiana (L-249). He is a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) and an EPA WaterSense Partner and is a member of the California Landscape Contractor’s Association.

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