What is the soil microbiome?

Have you heard of the gut microbiome? Or do you take probiotics? And did you know that the common antibiotic, Streptomycin, was discovered in the soil? The soil is home to the world's greatest biodiversity. That biodiversity includes insects that live in the soil–like ants and nematodes. It includes the world's largest terrestrial organism–a fungi … Continue reading What is the soil microbiome?

What is “vermicompost”?

Composting is a great way to help the environment. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. It also produces a great amendment to your garden soil. There are two main types of home composting: thermophilic composting and vermicomposting. Traditionally, composting refers to thermophilic composting, which is merely composting using the natural heat produced … Continue reading What is “vermicompost”?

Why is my basement wall cracked?

Basement foundation cracks can be serious, or just an annoyance, depending on the direction of the crack and the angle of displacement. Source: Morguefile A homeowner’s nightmare: You walk into the basement on a cold dreary night… only to discover a crack in your basement wall! Before you panic and think your entire house needs … Continue reading Why is my basement wall cracked?

How can I prevent erosion and runoff in my yard?

Erosion – the displacement of soil from one place to the other – can happen on large properties and small. When soil from your yard runs into the street, it can block storm water systems. Erosion is unsightly at best and an environmental problem at worst. But you can do some simple things to protect … Continue reading How can I prevent erosion and runoff in my yard?

How can I fix my falling retaining wall?

Our June 15 Soils Matter blog post described the various types of retaining walls and how they work. When not built properly, retaining walls may cave under the pressure of the materials they are supporting. This can occur gradually, which allows you time to fix the wall yourself or call for assistance. Although it rarely … Continue reading How can I fix my falling retaining wall?

How do retaining walls work?

Retaining walls are landscaping tools to help landowners overcome sloped areas. They often have a visual interest, as well as serve a functional purpose. Many homeowners use retaining walls to increase the amount of usable land in their yard. Civil engineers use them to create usable roadways. Retaining walls can even provide environmental benefits, like … Continue reading How do retaining walls work?

What can I tell by looking at – and touching – my soil?

If you are outside and want to know something about the soil you are working with, and don’t have any fancy equipment, then this is for you. With a little bit of experience you can get an idea of how much organic matter you have in your soil, how much clay you have, and how … Continue reading What can I tell by looking at – and touching – my soil?

Why is my soil so compacted?

Hopefully, the ground in your yard has thawed by now (regrets to those who still have frozen ground!). So why is it that when you try to push your shovel into the soil, it doesn’t budge? If it’s hard for you to push that shovel, it’s even harder for plant roots to penetrate this type … Continue reading Why is my soil so compacted?

How do I keep soils in my raised bed healthy?

As thoughts of spring enter our minds, many people are starting to design and develop their perfect spring and summer gardens. If you are new to gardening, you should know that there is no “right” way to design a plot. There are countless options! This fact allows you to embrace your creative side and build … Continue reading How do I keep soils in my raised bed healthy?

Why is it good to have the ground covered by snow?

The winter holidays may have come and gone, but for many Americans, snow will be around for a few more months. This is clearly good news if you are fond of the fluffy white stuff. For those that are not, don’t be weary. Snow can be appreciated for more than its good looks. It also … Continue reading Why is it good to have the ground covered by snow?