Few people realize it, but a rich, healthy garden soil is a LIVING THING! Perhaps not literally, but definitely realistically, speaking at the microscopic level, that is!
Healthy garden soil is literally teeming with countless millions of living microorganisms and fungi. These populations vary from season to season and year to year, but they are always there and always active, never sleeping. Beneficial microorganisms are those that can fix atmospheric nitrogen, decompose organic wastes and residues, detoxify pesticides, suppress plant diseases and soil-borne pathogens, enhance nutrient cycling, and produce bioactive compounds such as vitamins, hormones and enzymes that stimulate plant growth. Introducing these organisms in the form of a soil innoculant will add another dimension for optimizing the health of your soil and plants.
Introducing myccorhizae fungi and beneficial microbes can accelerate the growth of plants and enhance their resistance to disease and harmful insects by producing bioactive substances. The idea of controlling and manipulating the soil microflora through the use of innoculants and organic soil amendments is not new. For almost a century, microbiologists have known that organic wastes and residues, including animal manures, crop residues, green manures, municipal wastes (both raw and composted), contain their own indigenous populations of microorganisms often with broad physiological capabilities.
The application of a wide range of different organic amendments to soil can also help to ensure a greater microbial diversity. For example, combinations of various crop residues, animal manures, green manures, and organic mulches and composts applied periodically to soil will provide a higher level of microbial diversity than when only one of these materials is applied. The reason for this is that each of these organic materials has its own unique indigenous microflora which can greatly affect the resident soil microflora after they are applied, at least for a limited period. The occasional addition of good organic matter and a soil innoculant will help ensure a healthy population of microflora that are physiologically and ecologically compatible with one another. When these mixed cultures become established their individual beneficial effects are often magnified in a synergistic manner. So in conclusion, keep in mind that building a healthy soil will in turn build healthy plants that are stronger and more resistant to pest and disease problems! A strong, healthy plant is less likely to require the use of toxic pesticides. And this, in turn helps to build a healthier environment for ourselves and our children.