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Soil Your Undies

Got Microorganisms?

Want to know the biological quality of your soil? Bury your underwear!

Standard soil quality tests reveal the physical (percentages of sand, silt, and clay) and chemical (pH, nutrient levels) makeup of your soil. However, the biological makeup of your soil is just as important. The amount and diversity of microbes in your soil is essential to soil fertility and needs to be maintained for sustainable soil production and plant growth.

If you find your soil is lacking, adding compost, mulch, and other natural solutions can help you bring on the microorganisms, and this biological activity will improve your soil health, creating the right conditions for healthy plants and deep roots that sequester carbon.

A few months later

In your garden, bury a pair of men’s cotton underwear that has elastic on the top, and make sure you mark where you buried them.

Microorganisms will eat the cotton but not the elastic. After two months (not in the winter), dig up your undies to see how much is left! The less cotton left, the more microorganisms you have in your soil!

Watch our video for a demonstration of this experiment, presented by Karen Simons of the Rusticus Garden Club. 

Learn more about caring for your soil and how to nurture a healthy lawn and garden, plant native plants and remove invasive species on our Take Action Outdoors pages. 

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