It’s Not Dirt

August 13, 2010 | 10:08 am

It’s never dull when there is a three-year-old in the house. They are so darn curious and need an answer for everything. I entertain questions like: “Why is the sky blue?, what are you doing?, why did you throw that away?”, and a recent favorite of mine, “Where do the policemen sleep at night?” There is an endless supply of curiosity.

We enjoyed several great weeks of fresh green beans. Now that the plants are done producing we pulled them out of the garden and added them to our compost pile. Next we began preparing the soil for our Fall garden. The questions started rolling off our three-year-old’s tongue. “Why did you pull that plant? Where are the green beans? What are we going to do with that? Why do you have the hoe?” When she asked why I was hoeing the dirt, I corrected her and said this isn’t dirt this is soil. I explained (hopefully, simply enough for a three-year-old to understand) that dirt is the stuff you drag into the house off your shoes and soil is where our food comes from. Without soil the farmers couldn’t grow our food and if there isn’t any food, we wouldn’t have anything to eat. If we don’t eat we will all starve to death. Therefore, soil is very important and shouldn’t be called dirt. I love her curiosity, especially when we are working in the garden together.

In preparation for this blog I did some research on soil and found some great facts at the Soil Science Society of America website.

Did you know?

  • Soil is living. (You should know. I have been telling you that.)
  • There are more than 70,000 types of soil in the United States. (Do you know your state soil? Ours is Harvey Silt Loam.)
  • One tablespoon of soil has more organisms in it than people on Earth. (Wow!)
  • The very best Chinese dishes are made from soil. (Not sure I would sample it!)
  • It takes more than 500 years to form one inch of topsoil. (We must take care of it.)
  • Nearly all antibiotics used to fight our infections are obtained from soil organisms. (True, I checked it out! Penicillin.)
  • In one gram of soil, there are over 5,000 different types of bacteria. (And I thought all bacteria were bad.)

Curious if you now have a new respect for soil? Will you continue to call it dirt or will you refer to it as soil? (Mom can ask a lot of questions too!)