Soil Microbes – Do You Need to Add More?


By Fred, Edwin Broun, 1887-1981 [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

I live in an urban environment and it is assumed that most soils in the city are degraded and compacted, and that is probably correct. Compacted soil with little available nutrients can negatively impact plant growth, making the plants weak and susceptible to pests and disease. Establishing healthy soil with balanced nutrients and active microbes is an important goal for a successful garden. One of the popular recommendations that you will see these days comes in the form of microscopic evaluation of soil and brewing of microbial teas to apply to the soil with the intent of increasing nutrients and microbial activity in the soil. Usually, it is presented as a highly technical science that requires elaborate mixing and brewing of exact nutrients and microbes. This science and required equipment and space for said equipment is beyond most people’s understanding and abilities. A compost tea specialist I heard speaking at conference repeatedly uttered, “It’s really quite complicated.”

My question is and always has been, “What is the simplest solution I can use?” My reasoning is that there is a greater likelihood that it can and will be embraced by my clients (and me!) So I’ve been talking to people and reading as much as I can and I’ve found a couple of helpful posts that discuss this issue, including the following reviews of research studies and articles: Soil Bacteria – The Myth of Identification & Management and Compost Tea: Examining the Science Behind the Claims. You decide what you want to use, but I like the simplest method!