Making dirt

My brother in law created dirt.

The environment where they live is composed of a type of gravel that looks like large ball bearings, orange brown in colour.  Something in the soil –  iron? –  makes ferrous oxide and you end up with clay overlay with round hard stones that can be broken if you have a big hammer.  Nothing much grows as the topsoil layer is quite poor, but gum trees have colonised the biom and rule supreme.    Humus consists of eucalyptus leaves which have the property of killing things due to their essential oils.  Whilst they give a shade of sorts and cover the hills with an attractive foliage any undergrowth in the form of bushes and mixed trees are discouraged.

One timed I visited and they showed me where they’d planned a section of garden and encouraged the growth by watering and covering with compost.  All types of compost had been used including kitchen scraps, worm manure, chicken manure and other biodegradable materials.  The local wildlife loved it as it held a rich tapestry of bacteria and mixed materials, so over the years a fine black soil had developed with lots of worms and plant growth including lush vegetables.

Now I previously lived on this same soil and had tried all ways to get things to grow, including commercial fertilizers and creation of garden beds using mechanical diggers.  Nothing much flourished and it was all heartbreaking hard work even getting flowers to grow.   They’d succeed by similarly hard work but also the knowledge that good stuff breeds good stuff, and that given enough time and patience that anything can be brought forth.

The lesson I learned was that even on the hardest soil, lots of loving care produces something.