Understanding Soil Course


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Garden aficionados know that vibrant, productive gardens starts with healthy, nutrient-rich soil. Our new course on understanding soil is designed to go in-depth in helping you navigate this vital living ecosystem. Author and master gardener Robert Pavlis is the instructor for this nine-part program that covers topics like plant nutrients; testing soil nutrients, soil pH, and soil texture; fertilizer selection and myths; and the rhizosphere.

Check Out What You Will Learn In This 10 Workshop Course!

Why Should I Understand Soil? Meet the instructor, Robert Pavlis, learn about his background and enjoy and aerial visit to his 6 acre botanical garden.

What is Soil? In this segment, Robert explains the main components of soil, defines what good soil is, and discusses the role of microbes in creating good soil.

Selecting the Right Soil In this segment, you’ll learn the pros and cons of different kinds of soil and soilless mixes. Then we’ll review a number of common gardening situations, and Robert helps you select the best soil.

Plant Nutrients In this segment, you’ll learn about the nutrients that plants need and understand the NPK numbers on a container of fertilizer. Then you’ll learn the pros and cons of both organic and synthetic fertilizers.

Selecting the Right Fertilizer In this segment, we’ll take a deeper dive into fertilizer and help you select the right one for your gardening needs.

Testing Soil Nutrients In this segment, we’ll compare several different soil test options and compare the results from each. Robert shows you how to properly take a soil sample and explains what the results mean.

Testing Soil pH In this segment, Robert defines pH; explains why it is important to plants; shows you how to test it; and then discusses if, when, and how you should change it.

Testing Soil Texture In this segment, we’ll take a deep dive into soil texture. Robert explains what it is, how to measure it, and how to use it to determine the type of soil you have. Then he examines how soil texture affects gardening and plant growth.

Soil and Fertilizer Myths Soil myths are common and in this segment you’ll look at a number of gardening myths that deal with soil. Understanding these myths can ultimately save you money!

The Rhizosphere Our final lecture of the program! The rhizosphere is a thin layer around plant roots. Many gardeners don’t know about it, but it is critical to growing better plants. It also shows why the pH of soil is not that important and why microbes are.

About the instructor:

Robert Pavlis is a well-known speaker and educator with more than 40 years of gardening experience. He’s the author of Soil Science for Gardeners, Building Natural Ponds, and Garden Myths, and he publishes the popular gardening blogs Garden Myths and Garden Fundamentals. As the owner and head gardener of Aspen Grove Gardens, a six-acre botanical garden, he grows 3,000 varieties of plants.

Since 2010, our team has been producing the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at a variety of locations across the country. Toward the end of 2019, we began laying the groundwork for a virtual version of the FAIR where folks could participate, learn, and be inspired no matter where they live or when they can attend. We planned to launch this online-exclusive event later in 2020, after we wrapped up the year with our physical FAIRS. Then, well, you know what happened next.

We pivoted, launched our first “Mini-Course” in April as a test, and were thrilled when more than 6,000 joined. Now, we are excited to take this one-of-a-kind event to a new level with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR ONLINE!


For this program, we’re using the Teachable platform. Here, we offer “courses,” and each course features pre-recorded video workshops hosted by the esteemed experts that make up the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR family, along with supporting materials and handouts. Each workshop video is 20 to 30 minutes long. We have also included all of our live webinar recordings on this platform.

Register Now

Click “Register Now” and you will be redirected to the registration page with complete workshop details.