The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Dealing with Hardened Unproductive Soil



One reader asked a series of questions about hardened, unproductive soil in the yard.

Sand does not lighten clay, in case anyone had the misfortune of reading and taking that advice seriously.

Soil tends to maintain its state. When it is productive and full of life, the soil creatures trade nutrients back and forth and preserve moisture and health.

When soil is trampled down, dry, compacted, and hard as a rock, it stays that way. Even the opportunistic weeds may have trouble with establishing a grip on the soil.

The answer is - organic matter:

  • Newspapers
  • Wood mulch
  • Grass clippings
  • Manure
  • Pulled up weeds
  • Leaves
  • Banana peels
  • Citrus - and 
  • Red wiggler earthworms.
  • Add water to aid decomposition.


Newspapers have to be weighed down, so they should go on the bottom layer. If the area is even slightly breezy, soak them first. They really work well when topped by organic matter, because newsprint breathes, soaks up water and lets it go, and slowly rots into the soil.

Earthworms will not to do the job unless they have food. Otherwise a gardener could put earthworms into a sandbox and have a flower garden. Red wigglers are the most active when given plenty of organic matter to shred and concentrate for the soil.

Food on top of the soil will become an ocean of life - and food - below the surface.

As determined by God's Creation, the soil creatures will lighten up the soil with tunneling, moving about, feasting on each other, and making complex chemicals (cellulose and lignin in newsprint and wood mulch) soluble and useful for plant roots.

When there is some softening up, sunflowers will dig deep into the soil and help break up the soil.
When I mulch first and plant later, I pull aside the mulch a bit and plant the new seeds. The mulch will hold onto rain and extra water while preserving the improved soil. Hardened soil without a mulch or plant cover will blow away, the best leaving through wind erosion.

God created earthworms to improve the soil.
They are all muscle, so nothing can stop their burrowing.
They sweeten the soil and concentrate useful plant nutrition in their manure (castings).


How To Handle Red Wiggler Earthworms
Earthworms are easy to distribute. They arrive in sawdust, a bit dried from their journey. They double in size in a few days. They are not slimy.

A package of 2,000 is surprisingly small. I pull out a few at a time and drop them on the surface in the sunshine. Shade will work too. They immediately dig into the soil. Originally I placed them where I was gardening and where I planned to garden, with a few extra in and near the compost. They do not like hot compost but know when to travel in and finish it up.

I placed them along the house, along the fence, in the rose garden, and under the crepe myrtle. The combination of mulch, earthworms, and pruning gave the crepe myrtle bush a spectacular show of flowers, followed by a second flowering from pruning. I steadily add to the mulch pile under the crepe myrtle and it keeps reducing.

The rose garden last year was free of pests (except cutworms on the borage) and produced flowers constantly.

I come up with red wigglers no matter where I dig now,and I can easily share them with neighbors. A few will inoculate a yard, but that can happen much faster with a a few thousand for starters.