Soil, fundamental to all public gardens and farms but is still probably the least understood aspect. Not an inert substance but a home to a complex biome of invertebrates, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes all interacting to sustain and enhance plant life, if only we will let it! Plant life has evolved to feed this array of animals and microbes through root secretions and symbiotic root relationships. Unfortunately, most garden professionals are dealing with highly disturbed, compacted, poorly draining, nearly lifeless soils that require infusions of synthetic substances to maintain adequate plant growth. Learn to correct major issues with soil structure, and foster dynamic soil biome/plant interactions for greater plant growth and water efficiency.: Correcting poor soil structure and drainage is fundamental if your goal is to grow and maintain a highly diverse living collection. Efforts at Chicago Botanic Gardens are designed to restore the soil ecosystem so natural soil microbes and mycorrhizae can begin to thrive. Next, limiting soil disturbance is absolutely essential to sustainable soils. Garden in the Woods promotes perennial food crops and alternative lawn species coupled with alternative soil preparation methods to eliminate subsequent soil biome damage. Lastly cover cropping and companion planting at Chatfield Farms along with no-till and top-dressing help build soil carbon content, enhance soil life, and create more sustainable fertility.
Horticulture / Plants
Remediation / Brownfields
Health, Safety and Welfare
This session has the following learning objectives: 1) To correct major physical issues with soil structure and drainage, while fostering dynamic soil biome/plant interactions for greater plant growth and water efficiency, 2) Share new garden creation and soil preparation methods and first hand accounts of using new products that can enhance the underground biome to help plants thrive, 3) To mitigate existing soil issues from garden construction, cultural practices, and the pressure of over one million annual visitors and how to change practices which eliminate many problems associated with soil disturbance plus alternative species and alternative soil preparation to establish extremely low maintenance gardens and lawns.
1) For the past 13 years Larry Vickerman has served as Director of Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, a 700-acre farm and public garden in Littleton, Colorado. His professional background includes more than 25 years in farming, landscape/production
American Public Gardens Association