Soil Health


An article by Charles Dowding. Posted here with his permission.

Serotonin

Light levels are falling and we need contact with healthy soil.
This study of beneficial bacteria explains how soil’s Mycobacterium vaccae enables production of serotonin in our brains – the good mood hormone.
I am happy when there is some soil on the root vegetables I eat.

◦ Soil brings health
◦ Health is a positive state, considerably more than ‘absence of disease’
◦ Healthy gut microbes are vital for well-being, and no dig soil contains a lot of them.

I want more people to have access to healthy soil #nodigforlife
We are organising the campaign and feel free to email Nicola at admin@charlesdowding.co.uk for details, or to share your ideas.

Community Gardens 

We asked Flo Garvey to tell us all about the Sarratt Community Garden in West Hertfordshire: she is the founder and main organiser. Flo said,
“I would encourage anyone to start or help with a community garden, no matter how big or small the plot may be! Be prepared to work very hard, be patient, be flexible, be welcoming, take set-backs in your stride, form partnerships, and it will give you back so much more than you put in”.
Flo shares excellent advice which we shall include in a ‘get your community growing’ guide, once it is all finalised. To start with here is the video where Flo shows you the garden
Do follow her channel

Microbes

I have been working with Eddie Bailey, a geologist who is looking at many soils through microscopes (@touchstonesoil on Twitter), and he has been learning about the soil food web with Professor Elaine Ingham. In Homeacres no dig soil, Eddie is finding unusually high numbers of diatoms, which are unicellular algae and silica rich. “Living diatoms make up a significant portion of the Earth’s  biomass: they generate 20 to 50 percent of oxygen produced on the planet each year” (Wikipedia).

Below are x 400 photos of Homeacres no dig bed on the left, dig bed on the right, see my Trials page for more info. 

No dig on the left has a diatom in the middle at a 45 degree angle, and aggregates of soil particles, from healthy amounts of mycelial glue (glomalin) plus soil being undisturbed.

The dig soil on right shows little aggregation, and Eddie found very few diatoms or amoeba in its soil sample.