The Soil is the Solution

In 2009 I fell in love …. With the Soil.

Forever I have been enchanted by Nature. And in pursuit of that passion, graduated from UCLA extension with a degree in landscape architect in 2007. But it was for the first time in 2009 that I learned about the mystery and power that lay beneath my feet when I discovered the ‘soil party’ with G3, the Green Gardens Group.

Hands-carrying-SoilVery (very) simply put, the soil party is an exquisitely perfect system that begins with microbes transforming inert materials into nutrients for plants. Plants then ‘request’ what they need from the soil and pull it up into their bodies. They do this by taking carbon out of the air and converting it into a form that the microbes find tasty – tasty enough to grab and hold on to it forever. The final phase of the cycle – the leaves drop, the plant dies and it is all returned to the earth as food for the microbes to begin again. For a more detailed description of this process, read the easy to understand, “Teaming with Microbes.”

The implementation of this soil party in one’s own garden has the amazing power to transform dead dirt into a thriving, singing garden bursting with plants, critters, and life. Additionally, having a soil party transforms typically brick-hard dirt into a sponge, able to hold onto water and then release it as the plants needed it. Finally, it also acts as a filter, cleaning any excess water before it makes its way to the ground water. The soil is a multi-faceted, mini powerhouse, of potential.

Flash forward five years and it is nations arguing about climate change. (At least we now agree there is climate change!) How do we deal with the ever-growing problems of drought, rising waters, increasing storms, famine? Solutions get bandied about, but there is little agreement: it costs too much money, no one wants to sacrifice their way of living … and we are at a stalemate while the clock keeps ticking.

But what if part of the solution were right in front of us? Or rather, right below us. What if part of the solution was in the soil?

Scientists are now focusing on the soil, and the life within it, as more than just the medium that grows our food. They are finally recognizing that there is a universe of potential hidden just beneath the surface.

It is nearly miraculous the way the soil can filter toxins and pollution – stream beds, nuclear sites, toxic waste. They have discovered that there is an undeniable intelligence in fungi – read about Paul Stamets and his miraculous mushrooms. And they are exploring the soil’s ability to sequester carbon – which could prove invaluable to our need to reverse climate change.

Urban Soil SummitIn February of 2015 G3 is hosting the first Urban Soil Carbon Water Summit in the United States.

Its purpose: to bring together luminaries on this topic from around the world and jump start a critical dialogue about:

  • Restoring urban soils
  • Reducing drought
  • Creating a more verdant and economically viable city, and
  • Sequestering carbon in the soil biome to reverse climate change

For those that are interested in becoming involved in influencing policy and projects aimed at reducing the effects of climate change, I would encourage you to join the dialogue and claim a leadership role. Click here to learn more:

Believe it or not, 2015 is the International Year of the Soil. It is high time we honored such a vital part of the planet.

The solution is brilliantly simple. It is in the Soil.


About Marianne Simon

It was in 1999 that Marianne Simon left her cushy job with MGM to start her own landscape business, but, her love of nature goes way back. In fact, while most kids were making mud pies, Marianne was eating them. Since then, her choice of dining venues has changed, but not her affinity to the earth. She founded her Landscape Company, Poetic Plantings, with the vision of creating gardens that would nurture the spirit and nourish the earth. She received her certificate in Landscape Architecture from UCLA Extension and is a G3 (Green Gardens Group) Certified Sustainable Landscape Professional. She is also a proud member of Santa Monica's Sustainable Landscape Program, as well as having been nominated for Santa Monica's Sustainable Quality Award. These days her focus is educating and consulting for homeowners and professionals on watershed wise landscape practices. She also works with G3 creating curriculum, leading workshops, and developing workforce development programs.
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