Healthy, living soils are important whether you have a large farm or ranch or a small garden or yard. Healthy soils grow stronger plants, produce more nutritious fruits and vegetables, reduce erosion, store carbon, and are more resilient to droughts, floods, and pests. Healthy soil provides a home for billions of beneficial fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and other critters that help hold the soil together and boost plant health.
There's an easy way to test how healthy your soil is. All you need to do is Soil Your Undies.
- Wash a pair of 100% cotton underwear, and bury it in the top six inches of your soil. (If it's not your land, be sure to get permission from the landowner!)
- Mark the spot where the undies are buried.
- Six to eight weeks later, dig up the undies. If your soil is healthy, organisms such as bacteria, worms, and nematodes will have eaten most of the underwear you buried, leaving the elastic band. If there isn't much life in your soil, the skivvies might look like you could throw them in the laundry and wear them again.
This short video explains it all.
While you're waiting for the microbes to do their work, learn about simple steps you can take to improve the health of your soil.
Find out what our underpants looked like after five weeks underground.