Healthy Soil Components

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Components of Healthy Soil

Soil is so important to our lives. Soil provides us with our houses, our clothes, our food and most of our medicine. Soil is alive and beaming with life where as dirt is dead. How do you know what is dirt and what is soil? Here is a list of what makes good soil. They are not listed in order of importance, yet in an order of what to check if you are having any problems with your plants. Remember all problems above the soil are a result of a problem below the soil line.


Components of Healthy Soil

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1. Minerals

Provides the necessary elements for plants and us to live. They include but are not limited to nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, potassium and calcium. Deficiencies of minerals cause pest outbreaks, yellowing, rot and even death. Minerals should come from natural sources like manure, rock phosphates, compost and mineral mixes and not from synthetic fertilizers. LEARN MORE…

2. Organic Matter (Compost and Mulch)

Two main types: Nitrogen and Carbon. Organic matter makes up the primary elements inside of mulch and compost. They provide homes for microbes. LEARN MORE…

3. Life Below / Microbes

A healthy teaspoon of soil will contain over a billion microorganisms. These include IMO’s, bacteria, fungi, protozoans, nematodes and even earthworms. These are all very, very sensitive to the sunlight. Nature protects them consistently, and so should we through additions of mulch and compost. The life below the soil is responsible for all the nutrient collecting and delivering to plants in natural ecosystems. They are killed by salt based fertilizers and many pesticides. LEARN MORE…

4. Oxygen

Needed for most life to exist. Oxygen in the soil help in creating spaces for microbes to live and roots to grow through. Without oxygen, plant life would cease to exist as we know it. Compaction leads to loss of Oxygen. LEARN MORE….

5. Water / Moisture

Needed for most life to exist. Water is needed to keep plants from wilting as well as provide the hydrogen to many of the microbes within the soil. Water also helps keeps earthworms moist as they dig through the soil creating more areas for oxygen. LEARN MORE…

6. Life Above

A health garden will have a variety of bugs, birds, insects, spiders and even lizards. These creatures help keep balance by keeping everything naturally in check. LEARN MORE….

 7. Humus

Black Gold. The end product of composting. The dark brown, nutrient rich material that is left when the last six components of soil are in the right proportions for your area. Humus is full of life including microbes. Humus helps with plant nutrition and health.

 8. Media

What are you woking with to plant? What is the ground comprised of? This factor is different around the world depending on where you live. If you live in the desert, you will have sand to work with. If you live in the tropics like Hawaii, you will have clay to work with. If you are practicing aquaponics your media would water. Depending on what you have the most of, is what you are working with,is considered your media.

Each of these are described in detail if you click them.


Keep in mind that any and all problems in gardening and growing food are a factor of one or a combination of the above. All solutions to those problems come from finding ways to adjust the above factors. For instance if you have a wilting plant the immediate problem is lack of water (moisture). The fastest solution would be to simply add water to the soil. Here you are fixing the immediate problem which was a wilting plant. But don’t stop there, ask yourself WHY did you have a wilting plant to begin with?

If you look further, the problem isn’t a wilting plant, it is however the fact that your soil is not efficient enough to hold adequate amount of moisture in your soil to meet your plant needs. To fix this underlying problem, a solution would be to adjust the amount of Organic Matter or mulch above the soil. Mulch prevents moisture from escaping from the surface of the soil.

Here is another example, you have a white powdery mildew all over your tomatoes. Powdery mildew is a fungus, and alive, so you have an immediate problem with the life above your soil. There is an outbreak of a single pest. A solution to fix this immediate problem would be to adjust the amount of the single “life-form” in your garden. You could either rid the diseased plant, spray a milky concoction, or some other home remedy.This would in fact reduce the immediate problem that is occurring.

But if we look further, what caused the outbreak? Take the time to look up what Powdery mildew is and how it thrives. It in fact lives in places of high moisture and low air flow. Finding ways to increase air flow and lower excessive moisture would limit the powdery mildew. You are adjusting the oxygen and water levels around your plant. Although you may have to get rid of this set of tomatoes, you fixed the problem! Now plant some more and enjoy!

About the Author:

gwen and ILaura Rieber holds a BS in Agriculture with a focus on sustainability from the University of Hawaii, several certificates in agriculture business development and is a master gardener. The moment she realized the corporate lies that feed the world was the moment she was inspired to write about the truth about natural agriculture. She co-created No Spray Hawaii with her partner, Jesse Fujimoto to help others gain awareness. She teaches natural agriculture principles on the Big Island of Hawaii. CONTACT 



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