A slight breeze was stirring the leaves as I headed out for my morning walk along Wildcat Boulevard. The air was heavy and warm. The sky was nearly cloud filled.

A slight breeze was stirring the leaves as I headed out for my morning walk along Wildcat Boulevard. The air was heavy and warm. The sky was nearly cloud filled.
Still the clouds gave space so the morning sun could send its rays through and under them to create the orangish-blue colors artists love to create.
I was thinking about dirt, the soil, as I walked along that morning. The thoughts began when I was digging potatoes and a neighbor was watching. He said, “Your soil is different than in my garden.”
I told him that my garden has had all the mulch and compost from my yard for 20 plus years. The garden soil has a great deal of organic matter. Hence, a person digging in it sees fewer rocks, and the soil is a darker color.
A conversation that I had a few days later dealt with the computerization of farming. A computer can control how many seeds are planted, how much fertilizer is needed, and how much herbicide is required.
Farmland can be scrutinized so different parts of a field will require different rates of materials.
In the past, the soil nearest the buildings would have more nutrients as more manure was spread on it over the years. It was easier to spread manure close to the buildings. Even years later, the nutrients and organic matter is better near the buildings.
Scientists claim that it takes nature 100 years to build one inch of topsoil. That is why farmers are always worried about losing their topsoil to excess rain or wind. Topsoil and organic matter are where plants thrive.
Earthworms also help build soil. Naturalists claim that as many as 1.4 million earthworms can be found in an acre of healthy cropland. They also claim that tons of soil can pass through an earthworm each year.
This enormous number of earthworms are why robins can walk along on the lawn and find earthworm after earthworm. Somehow robins can listen to hear an earthworm near the surface so they can spear it.
Earthworms also help the soil by burrowing in it. These burrows allow water to penetrate more readily and oxygen to penetrate the soil. For some reason, plant roots work better with a good oxygen supply.
Making compost for a homeowner is easy. All a person has to do is collect lawn clippings, tree leaves, pine needles, and house waste such as orange peels and watermelon rind, and pile them all together. If a person works at it by mixing these material weekly, compost can be made quickly.
However, these materials will decompose in time and create compost material if you do nothing but pile everything together. It is hard to mess up making compost. Mother Nature is good at decomposing materials.
I like to put some compost in each hole when I plant tomato plants. This rich material helps give a boost to the tomato plants being transplanted.
Take a walk, take care of the soil in your yard and garden, use the signal lights on your truck or car, watch for pedestrians, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.  


Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.