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Working with nature to build soil health, with Robert Pavlis

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After last week’s session with Matt Powers, I want to add a second perspective on soil and the new science behind how we can restore it to health in our own gardens. For that perspective I got back in touch with Robert Pavlis who was first on this show a few seasons ago to talk about building natural ponds. Robert has been an avid gardener for over four decades. He is the owner and developer of Aspen Grove Gardens, a 6-acre botanical garden that features over 3,000 varieties of plants. As a specialist in soil science, he has been an instructor for Landscape Ontario and is a garden blogger, writer, and chemist. He teaches gardening fundamentals at the University of Guelph and garden design for the City of Guelph, Ontario, where he lives.

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One of the things I most appreciate about Robert’s work is that he’s not afraid to challenge any entrenched gardening belief or myth. He is always looking to get to the bottom of what helps plants to grow and what’s just marketing scams. 

In this episode we really dive in deep on the fundamentals of soil composition and understanding the nutrients that plants need to thrive. We talk about looking at soil as an ecosystem unto itself rather than a living material, and why striving for ideal soil is not as important as making sure that you have the components necessary for the life inside it. 

Robert also helps me to understand what happens in the ground after tillage, mulching, and other amendments. We go over simple tests you can do to diagnose your soil without special equipment or needing to pay for laboratory testing, and by the end, how to use the results of those tests to develop your own personalized soil plan. 

This episode alone is like a short but thorough course on soil health, so you might want to keep a notebook handy. 

For those of you who want to really expand your knowledge on soil science, I’ve teamed up with New Society Publishers to give away a free copy of this book. If you want to win a copy of Soil Science for Gardeners, just message me through our dedicated facebook group called Abundant Edge weekly regenerative skills and write a post about why you want to amend the soil on your site. I’ll select a winner one week after this episode comes out and send a hard copy of the book to you if you live in the US or Canada or a digital copy if you live anywhere else in the world. It’s that simple, plus you’ll be joining an incredible group of listeners like you who are sharing their regenerative living journey and learning experiences with the community. 

Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJfYCNSWCIuOB2sltDh5ZjQ

https://www.gardenmyths.com/

https://www.atitlanorganics.com/online-permaculture-design-certification

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