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May 23, 2023

Soils 101: Topping off Raised Beds

When we talk about adding soil to your school garden beds, it may come as a surprise that the physical work of shoveling and hauling the soil may be the easiest part. The purchase and delivery process may involve numerous people and can take significant time. Every school system has their own process for purchasing… 

soil texture layers

Feb 24, 2023

Soil Texture Analysis Activity

Soil is composed of three major particle types: Sand – Made from small particles of weathered rock. Sand has a dry gritty texture. Sand drains well, but due to the large spaces between the particles it does not hold water and nutrients; therefore, most plants do not grow well in sandy soil. Silt – Silt… 

Feb 24, 2023

Soils 101: Soil Additives

Solving the Soil Equation When faced with the question, “What should I add to my garden soil,” I typically respond, “There really isn’t a formula for doing that.” Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a tidy equation for amending the soil prior to each planting season?  Was amending the soil even on your radar… 

Jan 10, 2023

Hydroponics: A Soil Alternative

All of our emphasis on growing healthy soil in this newsletter series has made me think about the role of soil in growing plants. You may be surprised to look at standard 1.L.1.1 – Recognize that plants and animals need air, water, light (plants only), space, food and shelter and that these may be found in their… 

compost cake

Jan 10, 2023

Compost Cake

This “culinary” experience isn’t one to complete in the kitchen, but has a direct connection to our food, more specifically, our food waste. “Baking” a compost cake is a great hands-on way to introduce students to soil building through decomposition. What we would normally think of as waste products, like food scraps and dead leaves,… 


Jan 10, 2023

Soils 101: Building Soil with Compost

The idea of building soil might sound a bit strange. How do you build something that appears to have no real structure? Soil building simply means to improve both the chemical makeup and the physical characteristics of the soil so that it can sustain quality plant growth. This is done over time but more quickly… 

Compost Tea

Nov 14, 2022

Brew Compost Tea

Making compost tea is a fun and easy way to increase the microbe population in your soil and in turn, improve soil health. Compost tea is a liquid produced by extracting beneficial microbes from compost much like you extract flavor when steeping tea. The most common type of compost tea is aerated compost tea. This… 

soil microbes

Nov 14, 2022

Soils 101: Soil Microbes

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself.” We may not know whether he specifically recognized the value of microbes to soil health, but he certainly understood the value of healthy productive soil to a society. Today, agronomists (soil scientists) and gardeners alike know that microbes are a key indicator… 

Soil Your Undies

Sep 20, 2022

Soil your Undies

Healthy soil contains billions of microscopic organisms. Just one teaspoon of healthy soil contains more microbes than there are people on the planet! Soil microbes are constantly feeding on organic matter, like cotton underwear.  The Soil Your Undies Challenge started in Oregon as a way to bring awareness to soil health. Simply bury a pair of cotton…