Monday, September 25, 2023

Your landscape and the soil food web

By Mark Larsen, Earth Kind Services

What is the Soil Food Web? It is the complex ecosystem of life that lives in your soil. These lifeforms provide nutrients necessary for each other, plants, and trees.

In North Texas, the soil can be poor, such as in newer neighborhoods. If nutrients aren’t available in the soil, they won’t benefit this cycle, and therefore won’t end up in plants, or your fruits and vegetables.

The system called the soil food web was not well understood until relatively recently.

Dr. Elaine Ingham, a respected soil biologist, was a pioneer in understanding how it works. I highly recommend visiting her website at

There is diverse life living in the soil, and it all works together in harmony when the conditions are right. This benefits all life forms: grasses, plants, trees, and by extension, humans.

Microbes such as bacteria, fungus (yes, some fungi are good!), nematodes, insects, and earthworms live off the organic matter and other life in the soil. Science has recently also discovered that these lifeforms all communicate with each other and cooperate to provide what each one needs.

How can you get the right nutrients and life into the soil, then?

The best ways are through organic compost, organic amendments such as biological fertilizers and humates, and organic untreated mulch in the case of flower beds, preferably native hardwood. All these help keep the right balance and diversity of life and nutrients in the soil.

As a benefit, healthy soil discourages weeds and pest insects, reducing or eliminating the need for chemicals.

Balance and diversity of life and nutrients in the soil is very important. We benefit from the soil food web in many ways. Let’s take care of it!

Learn more at

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CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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