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For The Garden

Soil Secrets

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: January, 2010, Page 63

Pew also learned that plants make the best gardeners because they will attract and cultivate what they need in the area near their roots. As they grow and push through soil, plant roots slough off cellular material. They also release root exudates, substances containing sugars, carbohydrates and proteins. With these food sources, plant roots provide energy for an ever-changing flux of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa. In return, microorganisms break down organic matter into elements that plant roots can absorb.
“Recent research shows that depending on the types of nutrients they need, plants release specific exudates to attract specific microorganisms to do the appropriate work,” says Pew.

Left: A desert garden and a traditional-style Tohono O’odham ramada that is topped with ocotillo ribs highlight the poolside setting.

Right: Spring-flowering desert bluebells enhance the blue and green colors of a native mineralized rock.

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