Soil Creation on the Edge!

by Frank Gapinski

A couple of years ago whilst shooting the Food Forest DVD with Geoff Lawton he remarked how “only on edges do we get fertility” or words to that effect. At the time that phrase didn’t really make much sense to me but when you stop and think for a moment how nature creates soil, those words begin to ring true.

We hear a lot about soil degradation and soil erosion but we hardly hear about simple methods of building soil — the positive solutions we can go about to build fertility back into landscape.

According to permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton, the fastest way to create soil is in shallow lakes and ponds through anaerobic activity.

Organic matter is transformed into soil — but it’s a slow, natural process.

A decorative pond in your garden is more than just an ornamental feature or a place for frogs and fish to congregate. It can also be a soil creation mechanism as Geoff explains in this clip.

Soils getting created in the most unlikely places is something not many of us seem to notice, but it does go on silently day in and day out, usually in damp and dark places where the fertility of carbon and water is captured and held — the edge factor!

Apart from zinc-alum guttering, soil creation goes on in the most unlikely of places. Storm water drains and channels have some of the best soil found along the edges of culverts and overflowing creeks. Anywhere it seems where water can collect and organic matter be allowed to accumulate. It goes on silently drip by drip, leaf by leaf with the odd worm arriving to add his mark in his new home.

Originally we were going to include this clip in the Permaculture Soils DVD but we honestly ran out of space and time and there was plenty of other stuff we wanted to go through. There are faster ways to build soil and Geoff is confident that by harnessing a little moisture, nitrogen in the form of fertilizer and some carbon, you can actively make good quality soil in your garden and grow fresh food as well.

But spare a thought for edges – without them all that top soil would blow out to sea….