If you are fascinated by nature, soil and plant health, a new publication available online from Cornell University, Soil Health Manual, has up-to date information.
"Some soil scientists say that there are more species of organisms in a shovel full of garden soil than can be found above ground in the entire Amazon Rain Forest."
"Nematodes are generally the most abundant multicellular organisms in soil."
"All the life in the soil interacts together into what is termed the soil food web."
Frankly, some of the science and math is over my hairspray but it is worth a read through.
Highlights for the non-farmer, non-scientific gardener include:
Page 19 has a chart of soil quality indicators. Page 25 has soil sampling protocols. The Graph of Nitrogen Cycle on page 37 is interesting. There is a graph on page 41 that shows the benefits of adding organic matter. Page 48 discusses the 4 methods of improving soil health: tillage, cover crops, organic amendments and crop rotation.
Click on the link to read more.
Also new on http://www.hort.cornell.edu/ is a link to an article titled, "New site shows forests aren't just timber: think mushrooms, ginseng and sugar". The new site is "The How, When and Why of Forest Farming Resource Center (HWWFF) uses video clips, Web text and images, PowerPoint presentations and text files to provide a one-stop shop for farmers, landowners, researchers, natural resource managers and agencies to work together to create thriving agro-ecosystems out of forest lands."
Good rainy day reading.