Lush and Lean part 2: Retired NMSU professor teaches about soils and...

Lush and Lean part 2: Retired NMSU professor teaches about soils and mulches

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Editor’s note: This is the second of an 11-part series detailing Las Cruces Utilities’ 11-week Lush and Lean workshops educating citizens how to maintain a garden while being conscientious of water usage.

Bill Lindemann holds up a Chinese (Napa) cabbage moments after he pulled it from the ground in his garden. Courtesy photo.
Bill Lindemann holds up a Chinese (Napa) cabbage moments after he pulled it from the ground in his garden. Courtesy photo.

By SUZANNE MICHAELS

For the Bulletin

Don’t call it “dirt” around Bill Lindemann.

“Dirt is what you have on your shoes and under your fingernails,” he says. “Soil is what supports agriculture and our environment. We would be lost without it.”

Lindemann is a retired NMSU professor, who occasionally still teaches soil microbiology, soil management, and fertility. In his spare time he’s quite a successful gardener, practicing what he preaches and dining on what he grows.

If you’d like to hear what this expert has to share about the importance of soils and mulches to your gardening efforts, and how to get the most out of your soil, come to his presentation at the free Lush & Lean workshop Thursday, March 2.

If you’ve got healthy soil, with lots of nutrients and biological activity, your plants will do well.

“Soil controls nutrients, water, and oxygen uptake by the roots,” said Lindemann. He has two general recommendations regarding soil, whether you are a farmer or a home gardener:

1)      Keep your soil covered with some sort of organic mulch: Lindemann’s garden area is protected with grass clippings an inch thick on top of the soil. The soil itself is moist and full of earthworms – a sign of healthy soil

2)     Feed your soil: You can amend soil with organic matter, and Lindemann is a big fan of the Class A+ biosolid compost given away free from the Jacob A. Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility (JHWWTF). He notes it’s so full of iron and other micronutrients, it will repair plants suffering from yellow, unhealthy leaves.

Lindemann said one tablespoon of fertile soil contains one billion living organisms, all part of the cycle of life that results in spectacularly healthy plants. In fact, he said, there are many yards of microscopic filaments in that one fertile tablespoon.

“Even desert soil, which looks lifeless, contains one million inactive organisms just waiting for water and organic material,” says Lindemann.

How important is soil?

“If we lost the top six inches of soil worldwide, massive famine would result,” Lindemann said.

The soil in Lindemann’s garden is fed with organic material – class A+ biosolid compost available free from the JHWWTF owned and operated by LCU. Courtesy photo.
The soil in Lindemann’s garden is fed with organic material – class A+ biosolid compost available free from the JHWWTF owned and operated by LCU. Courtesy photo.

All Lush and Lean workshops are free and open to the public; they are held Thursday evenings at the Branigan Library (200 E. Picacho) in the Roadrunner Room from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. See the complete list of speakers and Lush and Lean dates at www.las-cruces.org/WaterConservation or www.facebook.com/cityoflascruces (you don’t need a Facebook account to view this page).

You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.

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