Saturday, February 21, 2009

Soil-ent green

Uh oh--as long as I'm enjoying my brief residence on Blotanical's list of the 100 Newest Garden Blogs, I should probably not leave a delightfully eccentric pop song/music video as the first entry newcomers see, even if it does revolve around the garden. Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. (For the wrong idea, feel free to visit my other, longer-established blog, which generally has very little to do with plants at all.)

In a hasty attempt to appear more conventionally garden-focussed, allow me to call your attention to this eye-opening post at Gardening Gone Wild about plant nomenclature. Actually, the plant part was fascinating enough (and made me totally want to shell out $3 US for the Chiltern Seeds catalogue for what sounds like some terrifically entertaining prose), but what really caught my eye was the revelation that

Soils have names too, but the current system of soil taxonomy is a whole lot more straightforward than plant taxonomy. There are six levels: order, suborder, great group, subgroup, family, and series. Each one of these represents quite a lot of information, and a bit of each level goes into making up the name of any soil.

I did not know that! Handy timing, too, as I've just started reading Amy Stewart's book The Earth Moved, which has me thinking about the contents of the dirt below my feet. I've been looking forward to reading the book since I first learned about it, and I'm only on chapter one so I don't have much to report yet, but I certainly share Amy's provocative observations in the "prologue" :

... I realized that I understood very little about the plot of land under my own house. Do I even hold title to this ground twelve feet down? What about twenty, fifty, a hundred feet? .... Is this little piece of earth mine, all the way down to its red hot center? ... And who lives down there, under my house? ... Millions--no, billions--of organisms inhabit my little piece of land, and it shocks me to realize how little I know of them.

I've been thinking mainly about those unseen inhabitants, but I now realize that even the soil itself has a complex identity, one that reaches far beyond such categories as clay (that's me), sandy, and loam.


Greenfingers said...

Nice post! I guess music and planting would really come together perfectly. And oh, about the taxonomy of the soil, I hope you could post some good information about their differences. Thanks in advance!

Ron said...

Thanks for the compliment, Greenfingers! Alas, I don't have any info on soil taxonomy beyond what I found in that Gardening Gone Wild post--and I see you've read it, too, because you posted a comment there as well.

The only additional clue I can think of is found in the photo credit: the image Nan used comes from a book called Soils: Their Origin, Constitution and Classification by Gilbert Wooding Robinson, so I'm guessing that it would provide further discussion. Happy hunting!

EAL said...

Yeah, there are a few books on this. I really should read one, but my geekiness does not yet extend that far, sadly.