Years ago when I was a Cincinnati Park Board horticulturist, I made a quick comment concerning the state of the ‘dirt’ in one of my garden plots at Krohn Conservatory. My boss, Jim Burkhardt, corrected me, ‘Soil, not dirt.’ He explained how soil is a living, breathing collection of organic material and organisms. He was right – and kind of brought it home for me – it’s just one ingredient in a big cycle, and it’s always changing.

Most of us view it as dirt, though, and this time of year with rains and any melting snow, it’s mud. Sticky, sloppy, grubby, suctiony, murky, muck. Every year from March until May I flip in and out of shoes between high heels and duck boots on site visits. I love it – the yuck before the beauty.

Every part of the process has a layer of discovery. People don’t realize how important the soil is. I remember thinking more deeply on soil and understanding how important good roots are, and good roots feed on soil. Like any strong foundation, you spend time prepping and nurturing for rewards later. What are you prepping for?