When you look at the created world around you, everything that is alive shares this in common. Water.
The human body contains anywhere from 50-75% water. About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. The fruits and vegetables we eat can contain water percentages from 74%-92%. Obviously, water is a very important feature in all elements of life. And the water is typically present throughout the life span of the living organism.
When water is able to be consistently present in a living organism, life can abound. And when life abounds, fertility increases. And this is ultimately what we are after in our soil. Fertility.
Now take a look at the picture below, and ask yourself, does this soil look alive to you?
I can not even depress my fingers into the ground, it is so hard. Now look at the picture below. Does this soil look alive to you?
The two soil pictures are about 2 feet apart. But this second picture is in an area that has been dressed and kept by me. I can easily stick my fingers all the way through the soil, and it is damp and moist. I also immediately find worms, which is a good sign that your soil is alive. If your soil is so dry, that worms can not survive in it, then your soil is trying to communicate with you saying, “I’m not alive, I’m not alive”. And this is what our goal needs to be. How to make our soil be alive. If I can so easily press my hand into the soil, roots also will have an easy time spreading out looking for nutrients. And look at the difference between the same seeds growing in my fertile soil, and other parts of my garden bed where the soil is dryer and more lifeless.
There is this famous soil in the Amazon rain-forest called Terra Preta. It is a type of very dark, fertile man-made soil, which has led people to believe that large populations of Indians once farmed the land. Below is a picture of a cross section of the soil.
Now the Amazon rain-forest is notorious for poor soil. In the rain-forest most of the carbon and essential nutrients are locked up in living vegetation, dead wood, and decaying leaves. As organic material decays, it is recycled so quickly that few nutrients ever reach the soil, leaving it nearly sterile.
Decaying matter (dead wood and fallen leaves) is processed so efficiently because of the abundance of decomposers including bacteria, fungi, and termites. These organisms take up nutrients that are released as waste and when organisms die. Virtually all organic matter is rapidly processed, even fecal matter. It is only a matter of minutes, in many rain-forests, before dung is discovered and utilized by various insects. As vegetation dies, the nutrients are rapidly broken down and almost immediately returned to the system as they are taken up by living plants.
Yet in the this sterile soil, Amazon Indians in the past have been able to figure out how to create pockets of rich fertile soil in the middle of the rain forest. When ever we come across methods that are successful, it is important that we study them, and understand why it works so well.
Terra preta, the rich black soil found in the Amazon, is characterized by the presence of:
- low-temperature charcoal residues in high concentrations
- high quantities of potsherds
- organic matter such as plant residues, animal feces, fish and animal bones and other material;
- nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn)
- high levels of microorganic activities
You can watch more about Terra Preta in this video below.
Now their are two important lessons for us to learn from seeing the success of Terra Preta soil. First, that fertile soil is alive and full of nutrients. And second, that fertile soil is man-made.
If you go back to the very beginning of history. The very first pages of history. We read that the LORD God took Adam, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. The very first job man had was to garden. And his instructions from God was to dress it, and keep it. To dress a garden means to adjust; to put in good order; as, to dress the beds of a garden. or to till or cultivate.
How many of you have kept a garden for several months, keeping everything tidy and clean, and then neglected it for several months. Maybe you went on vacation, or were busy with life. You finally check on your garden again, and it looks like this:
So here is an important truth. God, in his wisdom, created this world is such a way that if we want to create a beautiful and lush garden like this:
Then we have to have an intelligent and creative person dressing and keeping the garden. You will never, ever, find gardens, like in the pictures above, out in nature or in the rain forest. Only man can create such gardens.
God is really big. It says in the Bible that he exists through all of time and space. And when we look at nature from a distance, there is so much beauty and grandeur to appreciate. And God created man in his image, in his likeness, with creative abilities and intelligence. And we can perform amazing creative works, like God, but on a much smaller scale. Like dressing and keeping a garden.
So this is where the fun comes in. How can we use our God given bodies and mind, our intelligence, to create high yield, and low maintenance gardens that look spectacular in the dry and arid climate of West Texas?
Below is another interesting video of a person gardening and farming with intelligence.