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When you started down this path of improving your soil health, how did you feel? You felt discouraged, you felt worried, you felt fear. What is the opposite of that? That's courage! Courage to try something new. Courage to maybe even try a different gardening method. That is what we are going to talk about in this episode of the Pray, Just Plant Podcast. Let's get growing!


This episode builds on a series of episodes about building your soil health. So if you dive in and wonder am I missing something? You just might be.

Let’s recap.

We have talked about what soil health is, and how amendments are not the only answer. We have talked about how your plants can show you what the ideal soil is and testing your soil. And now we are going to talk about going that next step and understanding that sometimes our soil problems aren’t in our soil. That sometimes our soil problems lie with us.

In the last episode, we touched on mineralization and that God created several natural systems that will build soil health. And I know after absorbing all of this information, you probably have tons of questions racing through your head.

Your Burning Question

One might be, “Well, then why is my soil still deficient if this natural cycle of decomposition is happening in my soil?” The answer is that we as humans are not part of this cycle.

How do you and I as humans stop interrupting this natural cycle?


Stopping this cycle is going to take courage. Courage in accepting a new path and new solution. Amendments can help, I am not saying they can’t. But they focus on only the plant and not on the soil. Compost can help but it focuses on just the soil. What you need to do is find a combination, something that helps both the soil and the plants.

Before I share with you the solution that will give you success, I want to remind you that you are enough. You don’t need an expert to improve your soil health. This road is not going to be an easy one. It is going to set you on a path you may have never traveled before. Or maybe you have but quit after the first year.

Let me tell you, I still am struggling on this path. But I am moving forward every year! This change is going to take baby steps, small determined steps that will teach you to walk and then run. Every mountain is climbed by simply putting one foot in front of the other. The progress may seem slow at first, but in the end, you reach the top of the mountain calm and collected and ready to climb the next one.

This may seem like a wasted time to you. Why would an episode on improving soil health include a part on courage? That's easy! You wouldn’t be listening in the first place if you hadn't lost a few steps and become discouraged. Discouraged in the overwhelm of too much information. Discouraged by feeling you have tried everything and what used to be working is not working anymore. Discouraged in yourself. The thought that you aren’t an expert so how can I possibly fix anything. There has to be someone better. Someone with more knowledge.

This chapter is here to remind you that only you can be the expert of your own soil. No one can solve your soil problems but you. You are perfect! You have what it takes! All you need is a little guidance. A path to follow!

And courage? You are brimming with it! You have dared to break away from the norm, to live and provide for your family in a different way. You have dared to plant the seed, to nourish it, to help it grow! It was you who decided to face the sweat, heat, weather, and even a few tears to grow your own food. You are a woman full of courage! You just needed a small reminder!

Now let’s go climb that mountain together one step at a time.

Improving your soil health is not all about what you put in the soil but how you treat it. The methods you choose to use in your garden. Let me give you an example. (sorry this is going to be one more of those stories that may not seem to have a point right away)

My Story

When I first started gardening I did it the way I was taught. The way I had seen others in my area grow their gardens. I found the flattest piece of land we had on our property and began to till. I borrowed a neighbor’s rototiller and tilled up a 20’ by 30’ area. I should say that I didn’t till it but my husband did as I was pregnant with our second son and chasing around a toddler. But I sat there watching him, dreaming of all the straight rows of vegetables. Fully enveloped in the clean slate he was making and figuring out how I was going to fill it up again. My garden that year didn’t become the garden of my dreams as I just ended up not having the energy to keep it weeded, watered, and cared for. I was already caring for too much that year. But, that is not the point. The point is that I started my garden with no plan, no path that would take care of my soil. And year after year, I tilled, threw amendments in here and there, and had no idea that what I was doing was causing more harm than good. I knew I was following the methods of others and “they knew best.” They had beautiful gardens so why wasn’t mine?

It was because I was not feeding the soil. I was not protecting the soil. I was only looking at the end result and not the whole process. Tilling is effective at breaking up the soil but it also causes the soil to lose its organic matter faster. Planting in cute straight rows increases compaction so tilling has to be used again every year. Adding in manure and amendments here and there only helped some of the time because I didn’t test my soil to see what it really needed. I looked at the soil as just the medium that my plants grew in not a living and breathing organism that needed to be taken care of. Everything changed the year I decided to do something new.

It was the year I decided to get my first professional soil test done and change over from straight cut rows to permanent garden beds. This is when I began to take care of my soil and to see it differently. To see myself as not just a caretaker of plants but a steward for the soil. I do have to tell you that change came with a lot of trepidation, fear, and worry. I was starting something new and moving away from my old ways. This is a hurdle in itself. I had to break habits that I had taken years to cultivate. There is an old saying by William Cowper that says, “ Habits are soon assumed; but when we strive to strip them off, it is being flayed alive.” This is not a pretty picture but so true and then add in the extra troubles acquainted with suddenly stopping tilling.

No-Till Is The Answer

It is not written in the books that the first year of a no-till garden is the hardest. They don’t tell you that the weed pressure will be at its highest. Why? Because every year that you did till you were bringing up more and more seeds. They also don’t tell you what to do so you don’t feel that urge to till. You think “tilling solved this problem before.” See how it can become an endless cycle. With this, you as the gardener, not only have to learn to do things differently but also teach yourself to set goals and to always move forward no matter the problem. You have to create a new inner talk of “I am doing this for the soil, it’s going to be hard but I am doing this for the greater good of my garden, I am putting the soil first, so what if I lose a year of abundance, next year is going to be better and so will the next. I must stay the course.”

Changing my gardening methods was the easy part; it was the self-doubt that was hard.

It was this self-doubt that urged me to record this episode. To speak up, to tell you that all of your soil’s problems may not be in your soil but they could also be found in you and me. They just might be hidden under our self-doubt, in our unrealistic dreams. You can only improve your soil health by looking at the whole picture. You are part of that picture! You as the gardener are part of the grand cycle of life in your garden. Take courage, be a steward of the soil, you were made to cultivate the earth. You are enough! You just need to set out on a new path. A path of Soil First!

And as always, Don’t let the World Hold You Back,

Pray, Just Plant!

Intro 00:45

Part of Series 01:04

Your Burning Question 02:28

Courage 04:05

Tips and Tricks- Spring Bulbs 07:20

My Story 09:25

No-Till Is the Solution but not easy 13:00

Growing With God 17:12

Conclusion 19:09

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