The soil food web is made up of an incredible diversity of organisms. They range in size from the tiniest one-celled bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa, to the more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods, to the visible earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and plants. As these organisms eat, grow, and move through the soil, they make it possible to have clean air, water, healthy plants, and moderated water flow.
A garden that hosts a healthy soil food web is a successful, productive and incredibly nutrient rich garden.
So, how does it work?
To learn more about how the soil food web works we will begin with the plants. Plants take in sunlight and create carbohydrates and proteins, some of this is excreted through the roots to the area around the roots, known as the rhizosphere. Bacteria and fungi are attracted to the rhizosphere to eat those sloughed off cells from the roots. Those bacteria and fungi are eaten by protozoa and nematodes. The nutrients that the bacteria and fungi no longer need are released as nutrients for the plants in the rhizosphere. The protozoa and nematodes are eaten by spiders, moths, flies, grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects. Those insects are then eaten by animals. The earthworms in the soil eat bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. If you have a healthy worm population you have a healthy soil food web! All of the dead organisms are eaten by the bacteria and fungi which add nutrients back to the soil.
All of the eating and decomposing produces byproducts of nutrients that feed the plants. The soil food web is a delicate structure. If one of the players is removed from the game then the food web can be disrupted and not work.
What can disrupt the soil food web? Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can do HUGE damage to the soil food web. The best thing that you can do for your garden is to keep it in harmony with nature, free of all chemicals and fertilizers. In our High Performance Gardens, we will build a soil food web in our raised container gardens that is free of weed seeds and has the nutrition that it needs to flourish.
To get the full scoop on the soil food web, watch the entire High Performance Garden Show episode for free online by clicking the button below!
If you want to build up your soil food web this growing season without the weeds, save yourself the decades of heartache and enroll in the Abundance Garden Course.
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