Working With Nature to Build Organic Soil

| 3/7/2016 9:35:00 AM

Tags: healthy soil, soil building, carbon, disease control, pest prevention, garden planning, Mary Lou Shaw, Ohio,

“Organic farming” is often defined in negative terms such as no insecticides, no herbicides, no fungicides. Thinking of “organic” in this way doesn’t contribute to growing nutritious food, and it may result in the uneconomical practice of buying many amendments for soil and plants. In this article, I’ll discuss a more positive definition of “organic” that can actually result in less work, greater profits and more flavorful and nutritious food.

Organic Means Carbon

A positive definition of organic farming features carbon as its star player. When we come to see that the relationship between plants and the micro-organisms in the soil is based on the element of carbon, we can grow crops in ways that enhance this relationship. Let’s take a glance at the chemistry of carbon to better understand what we’re working with.

The entire branch of chemistry that is based on carbon is called “organic chemistry.” Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that organic farming is also based on carbon. Carbon has three characteristics that make it so special and thus essential to the structure of all living things:

1. Carbon is plentiful. After hydrogen, helium and oxygen, it is the most plentiful element in our solar system.

2. Carbon is able to make extremely strong bonds with other elements because it can form four bonds —the maximum number. Each of these bonds is held closely to the magnetic pull of its nucleus. Practically speaking, that’s why an oak tree can grow tall and has the strength to stay standing.

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