Itching for Soil

Some eyebrows have risen around here as I've proceeded with the task of removing all the top soil from the floor area of the summer kitchen. The implication is that I'm paying excessive attention to a laborious, seemingly unimportant activity.

Thanks for the inspiration. It got me thinking.


For decades I referred to my compost pile as the body of my grandchildren. Now that I have grandchildren, who only occasionally eat from the soil I care for, I would have to say it is the body of my great grandchildren. Unfortunately that starts to be a remote concept, so I don't use it. The principle, however, remains - human bodies, including those of the people you love, are built from soil.

Soil is the foundation of life on land. Along with carbon and water, it is the substance of my being, of your being, the substance of those you love and practically every other living thing with which we interact and upon which we depend. Soil seems to me a substance of utmost importance.

Here at LEV, we speak about the cycling of nutrient elements. Indeed, we practice that value by composting everything that we can of organic origin. The composting effort is to build soil. The rich black earth from the area of the summer kitchen is already soil, likely the product of thousands of years of lichens and trees, bugs and beasts converting the rock and airbourn elements into compounds that service life. How could we just bury it under a truck load of gravel?

Digging bits of black gold out of the nooks and crannies between the rocks and carting it away is vigorous work. Sitting near the site, catching my breath and contemplating the task, it occurred to me that there is much potential in the midst of the piles of black sand, leaf litter, fungus, bacteria and all. Within the next shovel full of dirt there may well be a compound that, when introduced to our garden, will enable the soil organisms to build organic molecules that plants can use and which, in turn, will help us grow, digest, heal, feel and more. Perhaps one such micro-nutrient will produce the enzyme that will trigger receptors, stimulating a chain of cells to generate an "Ah ha !" revelation. Such revelations can illuminate the way for us all on the path toward long-term well-being. I hope not to miss that shovel full of dirt.

Soil is at the core of sustainability. It seems to me well worth the effort to preserve.