Category Archives: Soil Organic Matter

BioChar May Have Use As A Soil Amendment

Nature. 14 January 2015.  On a drizzly day in autumn, Ben Flanner tends a sea of red and green lettuce on a 6,000-square-metre rooftop farm.

The soil beneath the plants looks ordinary, but Flanner grabs a handful and holds it up for inspection. Amid the brown clods of dirt are small black particles — remnants of charcoal fragments that were mixed into the soil two years ago. Flanner thinks that this carbon-rich material, known as biochar, has helped the crops to thrive, possibly even increasing their yield, and he hopes for more impressive results over the next few years. Continue reading BioChar May Have Use As A Soil Amendment

Earthworms and Soil Organic Matter

A LinkedIn connection friend in Los Angeles contacted me this week with a question about his earthworms that he has in his ….house.  An interesting place to raise earthworms, but who am I to question this.   Anyway, here is his question:

“Dr. R:
I know just enough about worm recycling to get my self into trouble.  I have had a worm bin in my home since August.  There seems to be a “lot” of real black soil.  I am not sure what to do next.

If you need more info to advise, please ask.  I’ll answer anything.
Your friend in L.A., Don”

My response back to Don:

“Hi Don… Here is a real brief “lecture” on soil organic matter.  Humus is a substance that is a jet black, sticky [like Elmer’s Glue] substance that is high in available nutrients… especially nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, although generally all essential nutrients required by plants are present in the stuff…. (do you really want to know all of them??) O.K., here they are: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, copper, chlorine, iron, molybdenum, manganese, and zinc.  Phew!!!  Humus is a really, really good thing to have in your vegetable garden …or almond orchard or orange grove, etc., etc., etc……. Besides being high in available essential nutrients, because it is sticky, it helps promote outstanding soil structure.. i.e., the black gluey stuff helps the sand, silt and clay particles in your soil “clump” or bond together so air and water and roots can move though the soil better.  In short, humus is something you want a lot of if possible for your garden, orchard, grove, etc., etc., ad nauseum…..

O.K…. worms: the worms, by running the soil medium through their warm bodies, create lots of humus [the black, sticky stuff described above].  So worms are really good guys to have around… To answer your question, Don, just use the worm casts in the bin for whatever you want around your garden, yard, orchard, vineyard, grove….. whatever…. Then add new medium for the worms so they can start the whole process all over again… and again… and again… and then use a few of them and go fishing!!!! Hope this helped a little bit…

My question is: why do you have the worms in your house in the first place?????

Dr. B.”

If any of you have any questions about your crops or your garden… or even your earthworms, please submit them to me and I will answer them in the order I receive them.  Thanks, and have a great and productive week.