Healthy, fertile soil is the key to growing abundant, nutrient-rich food. Organic gardeners recognize that their job is to build rich soil; abundant, nutrient-rich food is just a by-product of healthy soil. Feed the soil and the soil will feed you!
In this course, Samantha Langlois, conservation biologist and avid organic gardener, makes soil ecology and soil building available to people of all educational backgrounds. Delivered lecture-style and with supplemental PDF downloads, Samantha clearly breaks down the science behind healthy garden soil!
In this course you will gain the scientific background to understand the science of soil ecology. You will then learn what your soil needs in order to be healthy and fertile. Most importantly, you will learn how to apply this knowledge to your own backyard organic garden. By the end of this course you will know how to build the soil you need to produce abundant, nutrient-rich food in your own organic garden.
This is an explanation of course goals and objectives with a brief description of course content.
In this lesson you will learn what soil horizons are. We will briefly explore each horizon and use pictures to so you can clearly see the dramatic color differences between each layer/horizon.
In this lesson you will learn about the mineral composition of soil; the sand, silt, and clay particles in soil. You’ll get to look at the soil texture triangle and learn how to define your soil based on its mineral content. We’ll talk about the different ways each mineral type affects key soil characteristics like water holding capacity, nutrient retention and supply, drainage, and nutrient leaching. We’ll demystify the legend of loam and talk about why loam it is the ideal mineral mixture for your garden soil.
In this brief lesson you will learn about the four necessary components of an ideal garden soil.
In this lesson you will learn exactly what organic matter is and why it is such an important part of your garden soil. We’ll talk about what it does and what it is made of.
In this lesson you will learn what soil structure is and why it is so essential to healthy garden soil.
Here we’ll define aggregation and explain how it impacts soil characteristics.
In this lesson you will learn what soil pH is and why it affects plant growth.
In this lesson you will learn what cation exchange capacity is and how it affects soil fertility. We’ll define a few technical terms along the way.
In this lesson you’ll learn about the diversity of soil organisms and the important roles they play in creating healthy, fertile soil. We’ll talk about how the presence of all of these organisms is vital to maintaining the soil food web.
In this lesson you’ll learn about the 16 chemical elements that are necessary for plant growth and survival. To help you keep them all straight, we’ll break them down into non-mineral and mineral; macro nutrients and micro nutrients.
Now that you understand what nutrients are necessary for plant growth, we’ll talk about how you can find out what nutrients your soil may or may not be lacking. You’ll learn why to soil test, what most labs test for, what you can expect to learn about your soil from a soil test, and when the best time of year is to do a soil test.
After you get your soil tested, you’ll want to know how to provide the necessary nutrients your soil may need. In this lesson you’ll learn about some organic sources of commonly needed soil nutrients.
In this lesson you’ll learn about the dangers of over-fertilizing your soil. We’ll briefly explore the damage that is being done to waterways around the world because of nutrient overload.
In this lesson you’ll learn about four common techniques for building your soil: compost, animal manure, organic material, and cover crops/green manure.I’ll define some technical terms and provide specific details and considerations for each technique.
This lesson will provide a thorough exploration of composting: what it is, what the benefits are to your soil, and how to compost in your back yard.
In this lesson we’ll talk about the pros and cons of raised bed gardens.In particular we’ll consider soil, climate, weeds, costs, and aesthetics.
In this lesson we’ll consider the pros and cons of in-ground gardens. In particular we’ll discuss how tilling can impact your soil.In addition we’ll touch on the role of soils in carbon sequestration and global climate change.
As an alternative to tilling, we’ll explore a style of in-ground gardening called Lasagna Gardening or Sheet Mulching.
Lastly, we’ll talk about specific soil considerations for your container garden.You’ll learn how to choose a quality, organic, bagged potting soil.Besides soil, we’ll also talk about some other needs specific to container gardening like drainage, water, sunlight, fertilizer, and container size.
Samantha Langlois is a conservation biologist and organic gardener. As a conservationist she believes she can impart the greatest ecological good by focusing on our food systems. She has gardened around the country from Maine to Alaska. Samantha grows as much of her own food as possible. She currently gardens in northwest Montana.