Similarly, we’ve recently focused on the importance of living things in soil. Instead of noticing just physical properties—sandy versus clay soil—and chemical aspects—acidity and concentrations of minerals—we’re zooming in on the rich community of organisms that live in and maintain soil. Without them, our plants wouldn’t be able to grow.
|Plants depend on soil organisms to make water and nutrients available|
|A large member of the herd|
|An interpretive sign along a nature walk tells it all|
To help them do their job, it’s good to avoid compacting garden soil by walking on it, which can collapse the pore spaces, especially when the ground is wet. I have to admit that I haven’t put enough paths or stepping stones in my garden, wanting every inch for plants. I’m going to work on that in future.
|More paths would keep me from damaging soil structure|
|Lotus seeds can stay viable in pond soil for 1200 years|
When I used to turn my vegetable garden’s soil every spring, I was bringing those stored seeds to the surface.
|Goldenrod seeds were waiting in the soil for a good growing opportunity|
|Tall verbena seeds last several years in the ground|
Another withdrawal from the seed bank is happening without my intervention. For the past few years I’ve seen heart-leaved aster (Symphotrichum cordifolium) sprouting all around the yard, even more this year.
|Dormant seeds of heart-leaved aster have sprouted around the garden|
This is a species that grows in dry, sandy, and compacted soil. It’s out-competing other perennials that are more sensitive to drought and my heavy feet. Bees are foraging among the delicate flowers, so I’m glad this native aster banked its seeds.