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Flashback to TV, westerns and American History – Do you remember this song:
“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.”
Buffalo used to roam all over the Great Prairies. People like a spreading virus nearly wiped out the species. People kept coming! “Go West” was the cry and many did. They moved into the Great Prairies like a flood and many wanted to raise cattle or become farmers.
The Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). It was right on the heels of the Great Depression which began a year earlier with the stock market crash, October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday.
The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn starting in most places in 1929 and ending at different times in the 1930’s or early 1940’s for different countries. It was the largest and most important economic depression in modern history, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world’s economy can fall.
The end of the depression in the U.S is associated with the onset of the war economy of World War II, beginning around 1939. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation or other techniques to prevent erosion, and the deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains, which killed the natural grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. Dirt was picked up by the wind and blown all over the country. Often it was in the clouds and dropped with the rains all over the country. People and cities 100’s and 1,000’s of miles away became dirty almost overnight. Sometimes you could tell what area of the country or the state the dirt came from, just by its color.
Perhaps here, this ‘Dirty Little Secret‘ was the beginning of our obsession with dirt, not having anything dirty or not wanting to be dirty? These were very bad times and perhaps somehow embedded in our collective genetic consciousness, we do not want to be reminded of dirt?
After a report to Congress that soil had lost as much as 50% of its nutrients, the Soil Conservation Act of 1935 was passed. Immediately following this period, out of over 100 nutrients believed to be in soil, only potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers were used in abundance. Soil samples for comparison have been kept ever since.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has collected and studied soil samples, minerals, and other Earth material for criminal investigations since 1935 and thousands of cases involving Earth materials are studied in the United States each year. Throughout the world soil is usually collected at crime scenes, is routinely studied at crime labs, and is often used as physical evidence during crime trials.
This ‘Dirty Little Secret‘ is, thankfully we can compare soils of today with those of the past. If you grow a garden, rotate your crops. Let the land ‘rest’ (become overgrown), planting nothing, after EVERY 7 YEARS! Do NOT OVER FERTILIZE! Go Organic it’s orgasmic to dirt!
WOW, this stuff is really getting dirty! We are not done. There is much more to come and more ‘Dirty Little Secrets‘ to share next time.