This is the time that many of us plan for future growth in our yards and gardens. It is my firm belief that we need to do the same for ourselves. It is a good idea to work up a plan ahead of time to reflect on what is needed for this project or that purpose, to “find space” for that one vegetable you have not tried before or that one new flower that the neighbors gave you. We often forget that a small change often yields big results. Eight years ago, My wife Nancy and I planted two small trees, really just large sticks in the front yard. They now tower over our home, creating wonderful shade and habitat for critters that could have never survived in the harsh conditions that existed there before we made that small change. Flowers and herbs find a happy home there and where there was once a sickly mono-culture of quack grass, we have over a dozen edible plants and a rich diversity of food and habitat for dozens of species of birds and several dozen species of insects. Some of these things were not exactly planned for, but the tiny changes we have made over time have had huge impacts on our lives and those of our fellow critters!
One of the foundations of permaculture is to make small changes that have great effects. Remember the Earth, the Air, the Fire and the water. One thing everyone can do is to introduce air into the soil. Just break the surface and a series of beneficial processes will fill the void. My favorite spring rite is to loosen soil so that air and water can make their way in. When these elements are allowed to percolate into the soil, bacteria and fungi can get a foothold, their metabolism creates the “fire” of life where none could exist before. Most of the work is done by microbes and not by me, I just pierce the surface and “break” the soil slightly. Nature does the rest. Nature abhors a vacuum. Within hours, the mini cave-like voids that I created are colonized by organisms, broadening the foundations of life.
If you have a little compost available, sprinkle some of it in the area, and you enhance the effect many times over. Remember, just because life forms are tiny, or in this case microscopic, they are as tenacious as any other life form. They go about their lives, consuming nutrients, reproducing and excreting waste. The broader the base of the food chain gets, the more magnificent web of life can be supported by it!
Dig it? Dig it!