Healthy fertile soils take hundreds of years to develop. Naturally developed forest soil contains an enormously complex system of living organisms, organic material, and aggregates. Trees and soil have evolved together to be able to harmoniously provide for each other’s needs. Bacteria and fungi break down materials and unlock nutrients stored in the organic material on the forest floor. In return, trees provide food in the form of organic material for these living organisms.

Unfortunately, in an urban environment the conditions needed for this complex system to survive and thrive have been compromised by human activity. The organic materials living organisms need for food are raked up and thrown-out in favour of a clean lawn; developers disturb and truck away nutrient rich topsoil to build homes and infrastructure; hundreds of feet pound on the ground to compact the soil, reducing the amount of pore space in the soil for air and water.

The city is a harsh environment for the microscopic creatures who live under the earth. After being ignored and undervalued for decades; scientists, citizens, and industry professionals are starting to understand the importance of a healthy living soil. It is impossible to have trees and plants that can withstand droughts and fight disease without taking care of their source for food, water, and oxygen.

At Cohen and Master, we’ve been working to develop a custom fertilizer, designed to meet the unique needs of Toronto’s soils. We combine essential macronutrients with organic material, biostimulants, and live fungi and bacteria. Our goal is to give the soil all the tools it needs to rebuild a natural ecosystem to sustain the health of the plants in our environment long-term.

By: Rachael Kowaleski, BES
Consulting Arborist, Cohen & Master Tree and Shrub Services