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Tips for a Healthy Garden: Dirt and the Art of Grafting

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Tip #1: Never mix up your soil and your dirt

Soil is a natural body made up of minerals, air, water, and organic matter. From an animal perspective, soil is at the base of the food chain. Plants grow in it, worms eat it, we eat the plants and the worms.

Soil is part of the circle of life.

It’s also alive.

Soil contains a tiny ecosystem of bacteria. There are more microorganisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the earth!

Soil has a purpose, and that purpose is growing stuff. Without living soil, we would live on a dry, lifeless slab of rock.

Which brings us to dirt.

As a gardener, you’ve got to know the difference between soil and dirt so that you can make the difference.

Dirt is soil misused.

Like a bumblebee is a hazard in your car, dirt is a nuisance in the wrong place.

When it blows across a dry plain and gets in your eyes, soil becomes dirt.

When you track it into the kitchen from outside, soil becomes dirt.

Dirt is soil outside of its purpose.

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to make deep cuts

Let’s say you have a wimpy little bud-stick in your garden. You know that it’s not going to make it another year and you want to save the poor thing’s life. What do you do?

Well, I’ll tell you what you do. You graft it.

And not just any kind of graft. Not a “side veneer” graft or a “whip and tongue” graft. You’re gonna want to “cleft graft” that weak little bud-stick into a big, sturdy limb.

To execute a proper cleft graft, you’ll need to do two things.

First: You’ll need to make some deep cuts (this is the “cleft” part of the cleft graft). Make a large, deep cut across the end of your sturdy limb, then cut away as much as you can from your little bud-stick.

Next: You’ll need to pry open the gash that you made in your limb (don’t worry, it can take it) and then insert your whittled bud-stick into the wound.

If it takes, the bud-stick will start growing and drawing nutrients from its new home.

God, be my vision, be my holy truth. Yeah, I'll be the branches if You'll be the root. I'd give all my freedom, I'd become a slave, to lay on Your shore and be washed by Your waves. 'Cause all I want is You, You know. And through the joy of letting go, I've found my peace, I've found my hope, I've found my home. - Chris Renzema (God Be)

Soon you won’t even be able to tell it apart from the limb and, if a storm comes or you’re hit with a sudden frost, your former bud-stick will be safe and secure!

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