Soil and People


I have noticed, in Crystal’s videos, that I have been talking a lot about permaculture. One might get the mistaken impression that I know a lot about the subject. I do not. I have been sharing ideas that I have been learning about since I started managing the land here at Martha’s Kitchen Garden about two years ago.

I get excited because I have found all the information to be practical and very useful. Not only do I not have the physical capacity to till the field like my ex-husband used to do, but I discovered, by watching Youtube videos about the soil food web, that tilling actually destroys the fragile bacterial and fungal structures in the soil that feed plants.

Martha’s Kitchen Garden – Season One – Spring/Summer 2022 See the full Video Archive

Instead of tilling, I save cardboard, food scraps, junk mail, yard waste, old firewood, anything around me that will decompose, and pile it on top of patches of lifeless dirt. Wise and practiced permaculturists remind us to feed the soil and the soil will feed our plants. Each little depleted area that I protect from the harsh sun and flooding rains is a spot where dry dirt can begin the process of becoming rich soil.

But only the stuff we can now see under a microscope is actually new information. Permaculture seems to me to be a combination of cutting-edge soil science, and indigenous wisdom that we all had almost everywhere in the world before industrialism and capitalism hoodwinked us into thinking that their way was easier, or better, than our own self-reliance and free, local food.

It is also important for us to recognize our place in a larger system, so that our personal systems are in sync and primed to be successful. We as individuals are part of a human system and to ignore that is probably a bit of willful ignorance. People also need a nourishing environment to thrive. We need strong roots to withstand the trade winds of our time. And we are just as much dependent on our human structures as mycelia are on their fungal colonies.

Doing more for your soil doesn’t require spending, or extra effort. It requires the opposite. Our relationships with each other are the same way. If we feed them with love, they will prosper without much difficulty. If we pour on fake feelings and disrespect we will wind up with a lifeless pile of dirt falling through our fingers.

The reason I am able to cultivate this land I am living on is because I purchased it. That seems such an ephemeral thing when I lie on the ground and look up into the treetops and imagine the network below me that has its own hierarchies and extends far beyond the plot line of the property, and my life. I am here for a short time, and hope to leave the land better than I found it, and the people who cross my path, and the communities that I am part of, nourished in body and soul.

Mushrooms are showing up everywhere…

Martha’s Kitchen Garden – Season One – Spring/Summer 2022 See the full Video Archive

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