Claire Hattersley

I’ve been a passionate Biodynamic gardener at Weleda for over 20 years and have come to love and respect our sacred soil more and more with each passing year.

Diary 2022

Soil is amazing! It’s literally teeming with life and is a living biome in its own right; a living organ of the earth.

One teaspoon of healthy soil contains billions of micro-organisms all living, reproducing and dying, eating and excreting. This complex soil food web begins with organic matter (ie plants), which is food for algae, bacteria and fungi, who in turn are food for protozoa and nematodes and finally the earthworms, the engineers of the soil.

Just as our own physical and mental health relies on a diverse gut biome, so too the health of all plants (and ultimately us), relies on a healthy and diverse soil biome. These soil micro-organisms have a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, pre-digesting nutrients so that plants can more easily assimilate them. They also protect plants against pathogens and other environmental threats, offering ‘invasion’ resistance and resilience. The soil is essentially the plant’s stomach.

So, what can you do to nurture and protect this multitude of life in your garden soil? Be an organic or biodynamic gardener and use only natural methods for growing your plants. Make and apply good quality compost, never use mineral feeds and fertilisers, make compost teas, grow green manures, avoid leaving bare soil and try to grow lots of different sorts of plants with different root depths. Never forget that the soil is alive!

The Living Soil © Claire Hattersley