Fungus In Your Lawn

Are you noticing patches of dead grass scattered across your lawn? Or maybe blades and leaves of grass are turning brown. Whichever, these may be indicators of a fungus takeover.

What is Fungus?

What exactly is fungus? Well, it’s not just the mushrooms and it actually has a lot more to do with your soil health than you would think. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fungus is defined as, “any of a kingdom (Fungi) of saprophytic and parasitic spore-producing eukaryotic typically filamentous organisms formerly classified as plants that lack chlorophyll and include molds, rusts, mildews, smuts, mushrooms, and yeasts.” As noted in that definition regarding the lack of chlorophyll, fungi differ from a plant in that they require a host and do not undergo photosynthesis.

Dollar Spot Fungus

Instead, fungus actually thrive in dimly lit conditions. Fungus spread through spores and typically thrive in environments with poor airflow, excessive moisture, and low light conditions. This is why after a rainstorm, where clouds are prevalent and grounds are wet, you may notice signs of fungus. According to Graham Simmons, Director of Turf Grass Operations for Woerner Farms, ”Rainy and cloudy weather are prime conditions for fungus.”

Just like bacteria and insects, there are harmful fungi, but there are also beneficial fungi. According to Mr. Simmons, some of the harmful fungi can cause various effects ranging from an unsightly lawn to a lawn decline and potentially death. On the flip side, in conjunction with soil bacteria, they can contribute to organic matter and break down harmful substances in the soil. 

How to Get Rid of Fungus

If you are aiming to rid your lawn of fungi, Mr. Simmons recommends you take a holistic approach. “The best practice is to take a multi-step approach and not rely exclusively on chemicals. If there is a way to prune some bushes to create better airflow or prune a tree to provide more sunlight, do that in conjunction with fungicide treatment.” Fungicides are obviously the most common treatments and they come in two kinds: preventative and curative. Like its namesake, preventative fungicides are sprayed before the appearance of fungus to prevent fungus from growing. Curative fungicides are sprayed after the fungus has attacked your lawn and are relatively effective in eliminating fungus.

These treatments come in another two forms: contact and systemic. Contact treatments work on whatever it sticks to once sprayed. Systematic treatments, as Mr. Simmons refers to as the better option, is absorbed by the plant and then translocated throughout the plant. Mr. Simmons cautions against repetitive use of fungicides saying, “When applying fungicides you do not want to spray the same one back to back to back, rotate your mode of action so you do not build up a resistance in the fungus. Just because you applied the product and it cured it, it is not a good thing to spray the same spot.”

Soil Health is Key

As previously mentioned, soil health plays a major role in preventing these problems in the first place. Mr. Simmons explains, “Anything that will do damage to your yard is going to have a better chance at doing it if your lawn is unhealthy. By maintaining a healthy soil, your lawn will be less susceptible to disease, and it will be set up better to recover from it. General soil health which equates to plant health means that you should see less chance of disease and a quicker recovery.” And a regular lab-based soil test can help identify and correct any abnormalities in your lawn.

Checking Your SoilKit Results

After you have registered your kit, collected your sample, and mailed it in, checking your SoilKit results is the next and most exciting part! You will receive an email notification with a link to view your results. The link will take you to your SoilKit dashboard. From there, you can view your results and easily see your organic matter level, key element levels in your lawn and product recommendations to purchase. Alternatively, you can visit soilkit.com and login to your account. This will take you to your dashboard where you can access your results. 

Registering Your Kit

As simple as the process is, you may encounter some complications. If you have not yet created an account, when you click on your results link, the system will prompt you to do so. But what if you have an account but have forgotten your password? If this happens, type your email and click the “forgot my password” button. This will prompt SoilKit to send you an email with a link to reset your password. Then, voilà, you are done! 

If you have waited several weeks to access your results, your link may have expired.  This is a security feature. Never fear, though, the database saves all of your information so you can still access old results by simply logging into your account by navigating to soilkit.com.  Still have questions? Please ping our help icon at the bottom right corner of the home page and our friendly customer service team will be happy to help.

Thank you for using SoilKit!

Understanding Spreader Settings

Using fertilizer spreaders is the best way to apply fertilizers and other soil amendment products to your lawn. With a little effort and practice, homeowners can consistently apply fertilizers evenly over their lawn. Knowing how much and where fertilizers are being added helps to  maintain a healthy lawn, while also being environmentally responsible.  Mr. Buck Farrior, Agronomist Consultant to AgriTech, explains, “You are trying to make sure that each square foot of a lawn has the right amount of fertilizer.” Under-application of fertilizer causes the lawn to grow poorly and become susceptible to weeds and some diseases. Over-application of fertilizer can also damage lawns and even be harmful to the environment.

How to Use

How do you use a fertilizer spreader? First you need to know how much fertilizer you are trying to deliver. The fertilizer package often gives instructions on how much to apply and what setting to use for a few different fertilizer spreaders. A soil test can also be used to determine how much fertilizer needs to be spread on the lawn. According to Mr. Farrior, “Soil test results like those produced by SoilKit give you the total amount of fertilizer to be applied to the entire property and the amount of fertilizer product to apply per 1,000 square feet. Once you know how much product needs to be applied per 1000 square feet, the spreader setting can be found in the user’s guide of your spreader. On every spreader, there is a series of numbers or letters near the base of the lever used to open and close the opening that allows the fertilizer to flow out. There is also a way to set a stop at various points on the scale. By setting the stop you can consistently open the flow gate to the same point on the scale each time you open and close the flow gate. This is called the spreader setting. 

There is a good chance that your spreader model will not be listed on the fertilizer label. There are some ways to get to a good beginning point, Mr. Farrior explains “ by setting the stop at about one third of the total scale (if the scale is 0-12, about 4) the spreader should deliver about 3-3.5 pounds of fertilizer per thousand square feet. Begin to fertilize the lawn in an inconspicuous area of the lawn and measure out a 20 ft. by 50 ft. area. Pour in a known amount of fertilizer in the hopper and cover the measured area. Weigh or measure the amount of fertilizer left and subtract it from the original amount added. This will give a good estimate of the amount being applied per 1000 square ft.. Adjust the setting to deliver more or less as needed. If no scales are available use volume. A quart of fertilizer weighs a little over two pounds, so measure accordingly. 

Types of Spreaders

Rotary and Drop spreaders are the two basic types of spreaders. The rotary spreader is composed of a hopper in which you pour the fertilizer, an orifice, through which the material is metered and an impeller that throws the fertilizer in a swath as the spreader is being pushed over the lawn. Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly how wide the swath of a rotary spreader is. It varies with walking speed and the density of the material being spread. Mr. Farrior says “A good rule of thumb is to try to spread close enough to throw fertilizer to the previous wheel track.”

 Drop spreaders have a series of holes along the length of the hopper. The fertilizer drops straight beneath the spreader. They are more precise than rotary spreaders, and it is easy to know how wide the swath width is. However, they are more labor intensive.

As for deciding between the two, Mr. Farrior explains his reasoning, “For me, it depends how much land I am trying to fertilize. If I am spreading on an acre of land I would use a rotary spreader. If I am spreading on 500 square feet [of land], I would want to use a drop spreader because it is easier to calibrate and more precise.” 

National Soil Health Day

June 23, 2021 is not just a regular Wednesday. This next Wednesday is National Soil Health Day. Founded in 2002 by the International Union of Soil Sciences, this holiday celebrates “soil professionals, farmers and growers who are focused not just on soil conservation, but feeding and enhancing our global soil health”.

June is national soil health month and the 23rd is the pinnacle of this celebration. According to SoilKit business owner Christina Woerner McInnis, soil health means “taking the parameters established by science and helping homeowners and landscapers meet certain ranges because the better their soil health, the better their crops are which leads to a better environment for all.” To put it differently, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Soils defines soil health and quality as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.”

What this means at SoilKit

Here at SoilKit, we strive for this very goal every day. Christina McInnis says, “At SoilKit by AgriTech Corp. we empower the homeowner, landscaper, and hobby farmer with simple ways to improve their soil fertility, prevent runoff, improve organic matter, and sequester more carbon.” 

SoilKit CEO, Christina Woerner McInnis picking strawberries with her Father George Woerner

Christina continues, “As we approach Father’s Day this year, it is especially important that we recognize soil health, just as my Father continues to encourage me to do. Growing up on a farm, my Dad always encouraged me to value healthy soil. He inspired a curiosity in me that will be passed on through many generations.” Her father also taught her a lot about farming and soil health. She explains, “Dad taught me a long time ago a valuable principle he learned on the farm that spills over into life.  You need to work smarter and not always harder.  Dad uses soil health to provide a better crop with higher yields by simply letting science determine how to provide the right nutrients needed without overapplying.”

A huge goal of maintaining a healthy soil is ensuring the soil is sustainable for future generations. Father’s like Christina’s work hard at conserving soil quality and encourage others to do the same. 

Christina further explains what soil health means to her, and the complexity as well as the controversiality that comes with it. She says, “I run into so many people who have decided to quit fertilizing and/or have chosen to go the organic route.  While I have no problem with organic, I do have a problem with over-applying organic fertilizers that are high in phosphorus to soils that are already too high with the nutrient, and, as a consequence, it runs off to the waterways.  As for the people who completely stop fertilizing, it is shutting off the vital food source that is needed for optimal growth.  So many people do not know how to start with the basics – healthy soils.”

SoilKit’s philosophy has always been to help users maintain a healthy lawn and garden. Christina explains users can help by “starting with a soil sample, maintaining a balanced fertility plan and working to bring their organic matter level up to help sequester more legacy load carbon.”

This year, SoilKit encourages you to celebrate a step towards soil health advancement by submitting your best soil health photos to our gallery. What has grown in your soil this past year? What are you planning to grow? How are you controlling phosphorus runoff? You can submit by emailing your photos to photos@soilkit.com or tagging us on Instagram @soilkit. We can’t wait to see them!

How to Grow Blueberries: Everything You Need to Know

Blueberries, a fan favorite! These plump, juicy, and very blue fruits are both delicious and nutritious! Blueberries are high in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. A bonus: these berries are some of the easiest to grow, assuming you have the right soil conditions! Whether you have simply dabbled in gardening or have a certified green thumb, growing blueberries is fun, simple, and fruitful (literally and figuratively).

In addition to the superfood nature of the fruit, they augment the beauty of your landscape as blueberry plants produce spring flowers.

There are four major varieties of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high, and rabbit-eye. The most popular of the group is the highbush. It is recommended to wait until mid-spring to plant. When it comes to purchasing your plant, 1-3 year-old plants are the best choice. They can be bought from a nursery or online.

Before Planting

When preparing for planting there are a few things to consider. First, you must find a sunny and sheltered spot. Although blueberries are tolerant of shade, a sunny spot produces better crops. The plants should not be exposed to harsh, dry winds. Also, be careful not to plant your blueberries near trees, as not only will it shade your plant, but it will also suck up any moisture in the soil, competing with your blueberries for nutrients. Conversely, blueberries like to be near EACHOTHER. When planting multiple bushes, it is best to plant them in a patch rather than scattered around a garden, as this will augment their berry production.

Blueberry bushes are shallow-rooted plants; therefore, they require a soil that both retains moisture and drains well.

Optimal Soil Conditions

Blueberries, unlike most other plants, actually require a soil with an acidic pH. If the pH of the soil is not between 4.0 and 5.0, the plant’s growth will be stunted. Most soils are in a more neutral range (6.0-7.5), so you will need to perform a soil test in advance to determine your PH and if you need to lower it to the proper range.  “Because acidification can take some time,” says John Buckner, hobby blueberry farmer in Loxley, Alabama, “you will want to perform a soil test several months in advance of planting.”

Soil can be acidified during the preparation process by adding elemental (sometimes called wettable) sulfur. Peat moss and pine bark (or needles) may also be helpful. A final step in preparation is, like with most any plant site, adding organic matter to your soil. John adds, “to calculate the amount of Sulfur needed to lower your pH to the proper range, you should use a lab-based soil testing program.”

Planting Tips

When mid-spring rolls around and it becomes time to plant, you must know some basics. Be careful not to plant too deep. The root ball should be just about a quarter to a half inch below the surface. Dig holes that are approximately 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide. This will provide sufficient room for your roots to embed in the soil. Space bushes 4-5 feet apart, in a row (with at least 8 feet between rows).

After Planting Care

Once you have planted your blueberries, do not apply fertilizer immediately. Wait to apply fertilizer until one month after planting.

After your plants begin to prosper, it is important to maintain an ideal environment for the berries to thrive in. Use a 2-4 inches layer of mulch. You can use wood chips, saw dust, or pine needles to keep the soil moist. Blueberries need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

Your favorite fruit can be grown in your backyard with these simple steps! We hope you enjoy!

Unwanted Moss on Your Lawn?

Are you noticing an unwanted layer of moss on your lawn? This might make you wonder many things like how did it get there or how you can fix it. Well, I’m here to appease your curiosity and answer your questions about moss invading lawns.

Despite distracting from the quality and beauty of your grass, moss will not overtake or kill your lawn. Instead, it will fill spaces where your lawn may be thin. A mossy lawn is a good indicator of a deeper problem. As Mr. Buck Farrior, Agritech’s Agronomist put it, “[moss] is more of a symptom than it is a cause of a problem.” Moss on your lawn indicates that your grass has weakened or thinned enough for moss to thrive. There are many potential causes for this, such as excessive shade. Maybe you have a large tree casting a shadow upon your lawn; this might be the root of the problem. Another common cause is high or low pH in your soil. pH determines what nutrients your soil is absorbing. In order to discover if your soil’s pH is part of the problem, it is smart to purchase a soil test.

Soil Tests Help

 Soil tests will tell you any inconsistencies in your lawn, and provide solutions to get your lawn’s pH back on track. Poor lawn care is another major culprit for a mossy lawn. Irregular mowing or minimal fertilizer application are two great ways to neglect your lawn. Other causes of a lawn with moss growth include compact or poorly drained soils or poor air circulation. Mr. Farrior says, “Compaction caused by animals laying on your lawn, or various other things, gives the moss a perfect opportunity to take over.”  Compaction and poor drainage can be resolved by regularly draining your lawn. 

Another common solution to moss is adding limestone; however, it only works if the culprit is low pH. Limestone will bring your soil’s pH up to the appropriate level, and could eliminate the moss if low pH is the cause. If you add limestone to a soil which already has a high pH, this will only add to your lawn’s problems. So, it is best to purchase a soil test before trying this remedy. Iron sulfate can also be used as a temporary option to control moss. The moss will burn away but often reappears soon after. Another option to remedy a mossy lawn is raking out the moss. This is tedious, however, because it requires that you follow the raking with reseeding.

The most efficient solution to the problem is modifying the conditions surrounding your lawn. If you alter the surroundings to favor your lawn, for example by removing trees and shrubs, you are improving the air circulation and light penetration for your grass. This can eliminate the moss problem.

Properly caring for your lawn is a great place to start. Be sure you are fertilizing correctly, mowing correctly, and not over or under watering your lawn. Keep up with these habits and a mossy lawn will be one less problem for you.

How Does my Cation Exchange Capacity Impact my Lawn?

What do chemistry and lawn care have in common? A lot actually. If you recall the term cation from any previous chemistry class then you may already be familiar with cation exchange capacity (CEC for short). In case you need a refresh, a cation is an element that has a positive charge. In terms of lawn care, you want to make sure your lawn has enough elements like calcium, magnesium, and potassium; and a lower percentage of things like sodium and aluminum. This is why it is important to understand cation exchange capacity and how exactly it affects your lawn.

What is cation exchange capacity? Well, according to Mr. Buck Farrior, agronomist at Agritech, CEC is defined as “the measurement of positive charge per kilogram of soil.” Mr. Farrior continued, “clay particles and organic matter are negatively charged. The cations are positively charged. This holds the cations in place and makes it possible for the plant roots to take a solution of water and cations into the plant.” This is why soils with large amounts of organic matter tend to have a higher CEC.

How to Test

How exactly is it measured? Before deciding whether or not to get a lab test involved, it is relatively easy to pinpoint less favorable CEC. Texture is a huge factor. It is important to understand the amount of sand, silt, and clay present in your soil to determine its CEC. Mr. Farrior suggests, “you can often tell by the texture. If you roll [the soil] in your fingers and it crumbles down or falls away, that indicates a gritty sandy soil.” These sandy soils tend to have a lower CEC of around 3-5. Mr. Farrior explains that this is not necessarily harmful, per se, it just requires more maintenance. If your soil is gritty like this, it will just require you to mediate your fertilizer, meaning, don’t fertilize all at once.

Mr. Farrior offers a solution, “You can manage low CEC sand soils with the addition of water and nutrients.” Doing things like adding organic matter will improve a low CEC. If you send your sample to a lab, they will check for conductivity and for indicators of the amount of cations present, but generally they will suggest similar solutions making it fairly easy to tackle the problem yourself.

Testing Soil Composition by Hand
CEC Scale

The cation exchange capacity scale runs anywhere from 3 to 50 centimoles positive charge per kilogram of soil. As Mr. Farrior explains, “If you are in the midwest or northwest with glacier soils the CEC is 20-25.”  Usually the lower the CEC the harder your lawn is to manage. Sandier and highly weathered soils tend to be the lower 3-5. According to Mr. Farrior some of the desirable percentages of these cations are about 60-80% calcium and 10-15% magnesium. Soils that are heavy in organic matter typically tend to be in the higher ranges. Maintaining an optimal soil pH (usually around a 6) and adding organic matter would help to raise a low CEC. Also, Mr. Farrior explains, “if you reduce the amount of tillers that you do that would help. They are useful to manage weeds but are destructive to soil structure and quality.”

To conclude, cation exchange capacity is an important aspect of any soil, and relatively easy to fix. As it turns out, chemistry and lawn care have a lot more in common than you would think!

New Homes and the Effects of Clay on Your Soil

Picture this: renovations on your brand new home have been completed! Sounds great, right? Well, your soil may not agree. After construction, your soil may need some reevaluation. Start with a soil test! Sites of construction damage often have deficiencies in organic matter content, aeration, fertility, and drainage. A soil test can help determine your next step in fixing these deficiencies. Often, what causes the majority of the problem is clay on your growing site, and secondly, any wear and tear done by the equipment. According to Mr. Chad S. Blake, operations manager at Ponder landscaping, the major problem with your soil after construction impact is compaction. The weakened soil will not withstand wear and tear as efficiently as a healthy soil would.

Clay at New Homes
How to Fix

A universal solution is adding high-quality compost. Neutral, high-organic matter compost will solve a variety of problems including poor infiltration, water holding capacity, and nutrient deficiency. Avoid merely placing the compost; Instead, try mixing it with the soil that is already present. Simply placing the new soil will make layers of soil with different characteristics, rather than being uniform throughout. Mr. Blake offers some alternative solutions: “You can fix your soil by aerating, tilling, and cultivating it. You can also add Jepsen, a natural way to aerate compacted soils.” It is certainly possible to reverse any damage.

As explained by Mr. Blake, trace amounts of clay in your soil is actually good for your lawn; It’s when it gets to be heaps of clay that it becomes a problem. “If it’s in the right amount, [clay] helps provide good water retention so water doesn’t go straight through [the soil]. Clay helps soil retain the moisture. However, it can have the reverse effect. If there is too much clay, water doesn’t flow through it.” All soil has clay in it, it’s the amount of clay that matters.

Waiting to lay down sod

Mr. Blake gave a walk through in the process of installing a new lawn following construction damage. “We start by taking a soil sample, which will tell us any deficiencies. Next, we apply the necessary organic fertilizer and use a product, like limestone, to get the pH right if it wasn’t right. We always cultivate it and bring in a certain amount of topsoil. We also install any drainage necessary.”

Don’t be alarmed by a clay ridden lawn following property renovations. Maintain your excitement for a new property and relax, because clay damage is reversible!

New Sod: What is the Return on Your Investment?

If you were wondering what long term benefits a new sod installation might reap, you have come to the right place. The return on your investment in new sod comes in the form of enjoyment and the resale value of your home. George Woerner, CEO of Woerner Farms, said “The sod is what beautifies your house. It compliments it. A healthy lawn is pretty resilient and should be able to give you decades of enjoyment. [Additionally,] a beautiful lawn will increase the realty value. It tells your buyers that the house is well taken care of and follows the 80% rule of marketing (that 80% of the sale is the appearance).”

First Step

In order to maintain a beautiful lawn, you must first ensure that you are using the correct amount of nutrients for your soil. In fact, Mr. Woerner said that this is actually one of the first steps in installing new sod, as well as a key step in preserving it. Typically, the best way to measure what nutrients is by testing your soil. Mr. Woerner explained, “It all starts with a soil test. The soil test actually tells you what you need- it’s like going to the doctor and getting a blood test. What a soil sample does is it tells you what exactly you need for your lawn.” Mr. Woerner said that he recommends you invest in a soil test yearly, especially for sandier soils.

Blood Test

So, when should I invest in new sod and why should I do so rather than solving my lawn’s problems one by one? Well, Mr. Woerner said, “I wouldn’t tell someone to take out a healthy lawn, there needs to be a reason.” Over [or under] watering your lawn, over/under fertilizing your lawn, or mowing incorrectly are a few ways people may inadvertently harm their sod. Again, by investing in a soil test, you can rule out the fertilizing issue. As for watering your lawn efficiently, Mr. Woerner said to be sure that upon installing new sod, you water your lawn consistently for the first two weeks to ensure its overall health. When it comes to incorrect mowing, there are a few ways you can mess this up. Mr. Woerner explained, “When you mow, there are some things to keep in kind. One, Never mow it wet. Two, always have a sharp blade. And three, never mow over ⅓ of the leaf; If you let it get too tall the leaf gets woody and does not decompose. This creates a “thatch’ layer which water cannot penetrate.”

Watering Lawns
New Home

There are other, less controllable, reasons to invest in new sod, too. For example, if you have just bought a new home but there was a gap in time between owners, the lawn may not look in the best shape. In this case, the new owners will have to decide to invest in new sod. Another problem many face when their sod has been the same for a while is that trees might have grown large enough to cast shade over your grass. Mr. Woerner said, “Once you do have a [healthy] lawn I think it would be 10-20 years before you need to get new sod. What might happen in some places is trees will shade certain portions. That’s the reason so many people are having to rethink their lawn. If the trees get too big sometimes you might want to thin them. If your lawn went bad as a result, the best thing to do is replace it.”

New Sod Installation

It may seem easier to continue buying treatments for pesky weeds, or changing up your fertilizer, but it is often more efficient and cheaper to invest in a new sod installation altogether. Mr. Woerner explained, “[A new sod installation] gives you a chance to start over. A lot of times weeds and things get in the way, and many times it’s very difficult to fix them all. A start over is often cheaper.” Usually, new sod costs around 3 dollars per square yard, which is much less costly than some weed killers. Additionally, by pressing restart on your lawn, you are able to work towards maintaining its health so you won’t experience similar problems in the future. A healthy lawn doesn’t cost as much to maintain, so you save money by not having to constantly buy new treatments.

Types of Grass

The type of grass you have may also play a role in your return on investment. For example, St. Augustine is more beautiful than Centipede grasses making these lawns more gratifying and valuable. Another factor that plays into the benefits you can receive from new sod is the season of the year you are in, and the region of the country. This is known as cool and warm season grasses. On the gulf coast, we have warm season grass, meaning that grasses in that region tend to be green in the summer and brown in the winter. In Colorado and Kentucky, they have cool season grasses, meaning the opposite. According to Mr. Woerner, warm and cool season grasses are treated differently. “Even when you take a soil test, you will use a different blend of fertilizer. The reason is that in the south [there is] a lot of rain which leeches the nutrients out, but if you put the right nutrients down it will have more roots and hold nutrients longer. Some Northern grasses, like bluegrass will remain green year round.”

Ultimately, your sod is what makes your property more attractive, and can be uplifting for your soul. Mr. Woerner concluded, “If it’s properly cared for, [new sod] should be a long term investment.” By properly taking care of your soil, you are able to get the most benefits out of your lawn.

How Can We Protect “Mother” Earth?

As I reflect on my mom and my grandmothers, I am thankful for their role in my life and the high expectations they had for me. Those women were tough and still are. However, I now have a sign in my room that states, “I have officially become my mother.” I hear my mother and grandmothers in my communications more everyday. As I walk in the shoes of a mother, I just want to say, “motherhood is tough.” Just as it was their job to protect me, it’s now my job to protect my babies.

Growing up, I also learned another valuable motherhood lesson from our farm animals. We had cows. It was my job to help raise baby calves when their mothers passed away during delivery. While we always did our best to save the cow, we favored the calf, and sad outcomes for mom meant early mornings and late nights of a bellowing calf (Oreo or Butterscotch) outside my bedroom window. In those situations it was my job to be the mother and protect the baby calf.

Mother Earth

There is also one other mother I think about this time of year who can be overlooked sometimes – Mother Earth. Earth is a beautiful place and provides a balance of oxygen, rain, natural resources, crops, and so much more. But the role of motherhood is tough. As humans, we live on Mother Earth and have a history of polluting waterways, leaving trash behind on beaches, stripping natural resources, and more. The consequences of these cumulative actions are becoming permanent, irreversible, and will lead to regrets and pain. Despite this, Mother Earth relentlessly tries to maintain the ecosystem to protect us.

I challenge everyone to be a better Earth steward. When you go to the beach, follow Orange Beach, Alabama’s lead and “Leave Only Footprints” behind, respect the sea turtle nesting areas, and when dining try not to begrudge the paper straw. Grow a garden, plant a tree, or chose more regenerative actions to capture more carbon. Don’t collect your grass clippings or leaves on your lawn; instead let them naturally decompose to increase organic matter levels and provide a home to beneficial insects and microbes. Just remember, Mother Earth is doing all she can to protect us but ultimately this role needs to be reversed – it truly is our job to be a Mother to Earth and protect her.