Growing Things: Earthworms do the heavy lifting with soil – Edmonton Journal

growing-things:-earthworms-do-the-heavy-lifting-with-soil-–-edmonton-journal

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The common earthworm doesn't an excellent job of amending your soil. Photo by Supplied Q I was looking for more information on amending my soil the other day I ran across a term the other day that I had never seen — bioturbation. The article I found did not go into a lot of detail and I am hoping that you can offer some insight into this term and how it might relate to soil amendments. A If we look at the definition as provided by Wikipedia, bioturbation is, “defined as reworking of soils and sediments by animals or plants. These include burrowing, ingestion, and defecation of sediment grains. Bioturbating activities have a profound effect on the environment and are thought to be a primary driver of biodiversity.” A classic example of bioturbation would be earthworms digging their way through the soil. In the process of the digging they are moving materials in the soil, they are also adding organic matter to the soil through their fecal deposits. I’ve included a dramatic video of bioturbation with and without the aid of soil fauna with this column online at edmontonjournal.com. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. We apologize, but this video has failed to load. This is a classic example of the importance of earthworms and other soil organisms in the garden. The bottom line with bioturbation when it comes to gardening is the yearly addition of organic matter to the garden beds. This organic matter is then utilized by terrestrial organisms and is incorporated into the existing soil structure. To till or not to till … Q I have always been in the habit of turning my soil over in the fall and leaving it in lumps over the winter. I find it breaks down easier this way. In the spring I then rototill it. I want to add some manure to the beds this year. Do you suggest adding it before I till or after? I have read that either way works but I wonder if you think one way or the other is better? A My personal preference is to lay the manure down as a mulch to a depth of 2.5-5 cm. I am no longer an advocate of rototilling. As I have mentioned in the past I find that tilling can create more problems than it solves. I found that the rototiller tines would strike the subsoil with enough force to compact it and create a hardpan situation. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Some experts also believe tilling exposes weed seeds to the sunlight creating more weeds during the growing season. The tilling also harms soil fauna such as earthworms. Having said all this, if your garden is one with heavy, compacted clay, rototilling with the addition of organic matter such as manure will help that soil condition greatly. If your soil has a fair to good structure and organic matter, the tilling will do more harm than good. Blooms withering through winter Q My New Guinea impatiens plants are not doing well. I brought them indoors this fall after having them outside all summer long and they looked great. As soon as I brought them inside they started looking really sad. Any advice would be appreciated. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. New Guinea impatiens. Photo by Kimberly Pineda /Supplied A I’m afraid you started a tough task by trying to overwinter these plants. New Guinea impatiens are very demanding in their temperature and sunlight requirements. The plants will not tolerate warm temperatures. You may have noticed the impatiens will suffer during very hot days through the summer. The same thing happens to them indoors, the dry heat of most homes in the winter is a problem. A second factor may be light. Do not keep the impatiens in direct sunlight, they’ll not perform well at all. They prefer bright, but indirect light. Another possible cause is over-fertilizing. New Guinea impatiens are notoriously fussy when it comes to feeding and, in fact, need very little fertilizing. Once every 4-6 weeks is plenty. Learn more by emailing your questions to [email protected], reading past columns at https://edmontonjournal.com/author/geraldfilipski or my book Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on Twitter @justaskjerry01. Edmonton Journal Headline News Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300
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