The seasons are changing and Luther Burbank is in need of some changeover. We planted out a bed that previously had fava beans in it with crookneck squash, weeded away and also put in some lettuce and cauliflower. There’s a decent chance this crazy heat will fry everything we put in, but at least the soil has been amended with the compost we pulled out of the compost pile.
We also talked about soil and the components of it. These containers filled with sand, silt, clay and compost are very helpful to that end. One student was kind enough to label them.
My favorite part of the day was when we were talking about the different kinds of soil, and why it looks so different in different parts of the garden. One of the students noticed that the soil underneath the tree looked very rich. So I got to talk about trees’ activity of bringing up nutrients from deep down in the ground. The tree works with fungi to access minerals from rocks and other nutrients below ground. The tree actually exchanges sugars manufactured in its leaves during photosynthesis expressly for this purpose. Then these nutrients travel up the trunk to the leaves of the plant as they grow. When the leaves drop on the ground, they decompose and create a nutrient rich compost that delivers the nutrients from deep in the ground to all the plants (and animals!) in the area. This is one reason trees are so important. They literally grab necessary nutrients from mineral sources and make them bio available. We can’t, for instance, get calcium from rocks into our bodies unless they go through trees and plants. There was the hush that follows a good biology lesson as we all spontaneously took a second to look at the tree a little differently.