Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Are you a fan of gardening or farming? How much work do you put into getting your plants to grow? Fertilizing, tilling, weed control, watering, pruning, the list of activities seems to go on and on and on! Have you ever thought of ways that you can make it just a little bit easier? Maybe cutting some corners on the maintenance? There is actually one really great way to help lighten the load that you might be carrying. Want to know what it is?
LET YOUR SOIL WORK FOR YOU!
"How could I possibly do that?" you might ask. It is actually not as complicated as you might think. The short answer is disturb it as little as possible.
Did you know that Soil is a living ecosystem? It is full of both living and non-living parts that are interconnected in a brilliant web. The abundance of life within soil is greater than any other ecosystem ON THE PLANET! Scientists haven't even scratched the surface on understanding the rich and unique diversity within the soil ecosystem. There are more soil microorganisms in one teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people ON THE EARTH! Here are just a few things you may find in your soil:
Every single thing on this list has a particular function that contributes to the overall soil health. Disturbance through tillage or plowing can destroy your soil structure. Once you break that structure, you are no longer allowing the soil to work for you to the best of its ability.
Another SUPER important part of soil is the organic matter content. "Organic Matter? What the heck is that?"
Organic matter is the product of decomposition. This is super important to growing plants whether it be flowers or food, as it provides valuable nutrients and helps to hold soil particles together, ultimately contributing to the ability of soil to hold water. GUESS WHAT? That means you may be able to WATER YOUR PLANTS LESS!
Soil is something that we all have probably taken for-granted. Next time you go outside to do some work, think about all of the living things that are right beneath your feet, and how valuable they are to our existence. Without soil, we cannot grow food, and without food we simply could not live.
Check out this yummy and fun recipe and create yourself an EDIBLE ECOSYSTEM! This is a fun and DELICIOUS way to show the layers of soil and the organisms that live there.
Oreos - 1 and 1/2 rows crushed
Chocolate Pudding - 1 6 oz. box
Whipped Topping - 4 oz. (about 1/2 of a standard size whipped cream container)
Graham Crackers - 1 sleeve from the box
M&M's - 1 regular size bag
Mini Marshmallows - 1 handful
Sprinkles (rod shaped) - As many as you want
Gummy Worms - As many as you want
Butterscotch chips - 1 cup
Make up the chocolate pudding according to the box instructions and let it chill in the fridge for 5 minutes until firmed.
While waiting for the pudding to chill, crush the Oreos and graham crackers.
Separate roughly 1/4 of the pudding mix and mix it with the whipped cream, M&M's, and Sprinkles. In the other 3/4 mix in your butterscotch chips.
Add the pudding mix with butterscotch chips to the bottom of your serving dish.
Next layer on the crushed graham crackers.
Add the pudding/whipped cream and candy layer.
On top add the crushed Oreos in an even layer
If you plan on eating the dessert right away follow this step. If not, put what you have so far in the fridge and follow this last step just before serving: Take 2 mini marshmallows, flatten one then place it on top of the other to resemble a mushroom shape. Make as many mini mushrooms as you would like and put them on top. Add the gummy worms to the top and you are all ready to "DIG IN!"
MAKE IT EDUCATIONAL
What do all of these crazy ingredients represent?
Crushed Oreo layer - The O - Horizon or Organic Layer. This layer is typically made up of leaf litter and humus (decomposed material).
Chocolate pudding mixed with whipped cream - The A - Horizon or Topsoil. This is the layer of soil where you find the most activity from seed germination and root growth, to microorganisms. It is primarily made up of humus and mineral particles.
Crushed Graham Crackers - The E Horizon. This layer is light in color and is made mostly up of sand and silt.
Chocolate Pudding with Butterscotch Chips - The B - Horizon or Subsoil. This layer is made up of Clay and mineral deposits like iron (represented by the butterscotch chips).
M&M's - These represent your bacteria, protozoa, or other small insects that you might find hanging out in the soil.
Mini Marshmallows - FUNGI! Although you find multiple forms of fungi within the soil (Typically in the form of mycorrhizae that attach to plant roots), its always fun to play with your food and shape your marshmallows into little mushrooms!
Sprinkles - Although not a great representation these are used to represent Nematodes! (and you can't go wrong with sprinkles!)
Gummy Worms - Hmmm I wonder what these could be???? Oh yeah WORMS! To be more scientific - Annelids!
Get creative with it! Try finding more candies that can represent some of the other components of soil to add to your dessert. Comment below with your completed dessert or ideas.