You may not realize it, but any time you step foot off of pavement and onto the ground you have a microscopic menagerie just under your shoes. Helpful bacteria, networks of fungi, hungry microarthropods, and more form a complex food web, resulting in healthy, nutrient-rich soils that can support all sorts of life. Even though you won’t see most of them, hundreds of millions (if not billions!) of tiny critters and kilometers (yes, kilometers!) of fungi can exist in a single teaspoon of soil. That is, at least in healthy soil.
“It’s only recently that I learned about the awesome interconnected diversity of life and activity
hiding in healthy soils. Now I understand that for habitat restoration to be successful
we must also reboot the soil food web to really help plants thrive.”
– Ewa Bednarczuk, Ecology & Stewardship Specialist at LTC
Due to years of supporting lawn grass and weeds, soil, like that at the southern portion of the Trenton Greenbelt, is shallow, compacted, and lacking a well-balanced microscopic food web. These factors were all measured in 2022 so improvements to the soil can be tracked over the course of the site’s restoration. Several steps have already been taken last September to improve the soil and prepare it to support a variety of native grasses, wildflowers, and shade trees:
- STEP ONE
First, the City of Quinte West helped us soften the soil a bit by using something called a core aerator. This machine, pulled behind a tractor, takes cylinders of soil, and pops them out of the ground, leaving behind small holes (Remember when I mentioned these in the first post? https://ltc.on.ca/ready-set-restore-trenton-greenbelt-begins-restoration-journey/). Not only does this reduce compaction, but it also allows water to soak into the ground more easily. Perhaps most importantly, the new holes prepared the site for…
- STEP TWO
Students from the Bayside Outside Program (a Specialist High Skills Major program focused on the Environment) joined us with shovels in hand to help spread specialized compost on site, which conveniently found its way into the holes we created in Step One. This compost was nutrient dense and positively bursting with all sorts of microorganisms, kickstarting the soil’s food web.
- STEP THREE
Finally, the soil was broken up even further when a cover crop was planted on site using a seeding disc. (More on cover crops in a future post).
In the coming year, some of these steps will be repeated to ensure the healthiest soil biology possible and, subsequently, a welcoming environment for all our lovely prairie-meadow plants.
If you have any questions or comments about the Restoring the Trenton Greenbelt Project, you may reach Jason Jobin, Environmental Stewardship Technician at [email protected] or 613-394-3915 ext. 225.
A special thank you to Brooke Wright, Invasive Species Summer Technician at Lower Trent Conservation, for developing the outline of these blogs, and contributing associated content.
This project is undertaken with financial support of the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, the Rotary Club of Trenton, and the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (a Government of Canada’s Department of Environment and Climate Change program in partnership with Conservation Ontario).