Out with the Dirt, In with the Soil!

yucky dirtWe had another fantastic workday last Friday. I'm so impressed by everyone who came out to the greenhouse at the Bot Gardens just to move dirt around. Seriously, it's awesome to know that people think this project is so worthwhile that they're willing to spend Friday afternoons shoveling and pushing wheelbarrows!

The task of moving all the old dirt out of the beds in the greenhouse took a long time, but it was really important. Why? The dirt that was in there was so old it was more like concrete, plus it was possibly contaminated with funky things that we do not want in our food… not that we could've grown anything in it anyways. As you can see in this photo, that stuff doesn't exactly look fertile.

We started off this last workday with the beds virtually empty, so we were finally able to move fresh, beautiful, composty soil into the new beds! While we were working up a sweat shoveling soil into wheelbarrows, pushing wheelbarrows, unloading wheelbarrows, and spreading soil, we were reminded of a relevant lesson in vocabulary: "dirt" and "soil" are not the same.

dirt to soil

The difference isn't exactly huge, but basically, soil is a rich compilation of minerals and living matter, while dirt is more like dust or other less nutrient-rich matter (ie pebbles). Soil is living and seed starting supports living organisms, and is great for growing plants. Dirt… not so much. You can see the difference pretty clearly in the photos above. This reminder was brought to us by our lovely UMSFP-core member and conservation-ecologist-in-training, Liz Dengate.

Our next workday is tomorrow (2/8)! There will be seed starting and other fun things to do. Meet at the Ginsberg Center at 3:30 if you want to join!


-Sarah

Sustainable Food Program | University of Michigan
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