Burnett: Small critters alive in the soil and the air

The soil beneath our feet is teaming with life. Among the smallest are the bacteria and archaea.

There is a lot going on in our gardens and even in our homes that we never see because most of it is too small to notice without a hand lens or microscope.

The soil especially is teaming with life. Without getting too technical, I will just name a few of the organisms found in healthy soil and let you do the research on them by searching the Internet.

Among the smallest are the bacteria and archaea although viruses are even smaller than these. Fungi is another group of organisms common in soil and compost ranging from very small to quite visible; mushrooms of course are part of this group.

There are three types of algae as there are  protozoa—flagellates, amoebae and ciliates.

I guess by now you must be saying enough already, we believe you, our soil is chock full of living creatures we rarely see but as long as they stay where they are and do their job, then I can get on with my gardening without thinking about them.

There are, however, people on the planet who just can’t leave it at that, who have a serious urge to learn as much about this miniature world beneath our feet.

One such person is Tim Wilson, who I met a few years ago at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. He had a booth set up with a huge flat television screen constantly playing video of compost tea magnified 500 times or more over.

It looked like a pond full of fish swimming around, only instead of fish there was a collection of weird little creatures swimming, mating, eating and yes even scrapping with each other. Sounds a bit like human beings doesn’t it? But I digress.

The bottom line is here is a man who spends a lot of time watching this world of tiny creatures and wants to share what he has learned.

Visit his website   microorganics.com and you will be amazed at what he has to show you.

Turning from the tiny to the all over the place and in your face insect pests, we have some visitors that return every year.

The one that comes to mind is fall web worm, which is often confused with a tent caterpillar and even a codling moth.

The masses of webbing we see along the roadways and even on our domestic trees and shrubs is one of the most visible pests we have in the Okanagan.

But even though is so visible, I have to tell you the damage is only cosmetic. The best way to help keep it to a minimum is to just take a stick and shake up the web clusters, something like making cotton candy.

Once the larvae (caterpillars) are exposed the birds and wasps have a field day on them. As I said, the damage even on a very infested tree is only temporary and the foliage will regrow the next season.


Just Posted

Popular stories from the week

Every Saturday, the Capital News highlights popular stories from the week

Mining led to mass production, says UBCO prof

Without destructive mining, mass production and consumption would not be possible

Grease fire contained in West Kelowna

Crews responded at 11:40 a.m. this morning

Veteran reporter to stay at Global Okanagan

Blaine Gaffney was given a layoff notice after a miscommunication

In Photos: UBCO Heat teaches basketball skills

The women’s team visited Ellison Elementary Wednesday and Thursday

What’s happening

Check out what is happening this weekend in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Oil Kings slide past Rockets in shootout

Ex-Rocket Tomas Soustal scores in Edmonton win Saturday over hometown Kelowna

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

Ski Patrol and SAR search for missing skier

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Most Read