Building and maintaining a healthy soil


If your soil isn’t healthy, your plants won’t be, either. Soil health can be defined as its continued capacity to sustain plants, animals and humans. A healthy soil supplies plants with nutrients and water needed for growth and reproduction. Plants also need oxygen from the soil for root function.
A healthy soil is a living, breathing ecosystem. Billions of microorganisms can be found in one cup of healthy soil, and their job is to keep the ecosystem running smoothly. Management choices that provide a healthy habitat for both soil microorganisms and roots will promote a thriving plant community and garden. Soil mixes involving pumice often show heightened results from the grow.
How can we build and maintain soil health?
Deal with soil compaction: Soil needs pore space to facilitate air and water movement into and through the soil. Compaction decreases porosity in the soil — slowing water drainage and restricting oxygen for roots.
Irrigate properly: Roots and beneficial microorganisms need water and oxygen, so keep the primary root zone well hydrated and well aerated. The texture of a soil (proportions of sand, silt and clay) determines how to best irrigate it.
Reduce chemical disturbances to the soil: Don’t use pesticides unnecessarily and don’t overdo fertilizers or organic amendments. Excess nutrients can be a source of environmental pollution, cause an imbalance of nutrient ratios in the soil and add unnecessary salts.
See CSU Extension GardenNotes and Fact Sheets ( for information on dealing with soil compaction, irrigation management, and the proper use of fertilizers and organic amendments.
Seed potato orders
Certified seed potatoes are still available, but only if you order by tomorrow. Call the office at 264-5931 to find out what varieties are left for purchase. They are $1 per pound.
Upcoming events
May 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: The Farm Bureau is sponsoring a Land Stewardship Symposium and Wolf Presentation. Come learn about soil health, toxic plants, water as a resource and tree health. In the afternoon, you will hear from Mike Smith on insurance, and then keynote speaker Denny Behrens will speak on wolves and livestock. There is no need to register, just show up. Free lunch included.
May 25: Bee workshop. We will be heading to the Banded Peaks Ranch to visit with beekeeping experts and get hands-on experience with the bees. The workshop costs $25 and is limited to 20 people. Lunch will be provided. This is an all-day workshop, so please wear appropriate clothing and anything else you would need for being outside all day. Please call the office to sign up and pay, 264-5931.
Aug. 1-4: Archuleta County Fair. Do you quilt or sew, can vegetables or fruit, grow hay crops, veggies or flowers? Maybe you do leather or wood work? Possibly brew beer or make wine? Or maybe you have a hidden crafting talent that you would like share with us? If so, then you can enter the Archuleta County Fair Open Classes. Go to to find out how to enter. It’s homegrown and county pride.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.
Congratulations to Terry Schaaf on her outstanding administrative assistant award.