Fourteen Master Gardeners set out on Thursday, April 10, for advance training credits in a soil biology class at the Rodale Institute We met at Anna Herman’s house around 11:30 and arrived at the institute around 1:00. Our three hour class, instructed by Dr. Gladis Zinati, consisted of learning about the four major players of soil biology: bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes.
Not only did she help us identify them in pictures, but gave us the opportunity to see them live under microscopes. Learning to take samples from soil or compost, using the microscope to look for specific microbes, and learning to count them was interesting and something we Master Gardener's could use in the field. It was a lot of fun observing the tiny microorganisms and hearing classmates yelling out, “I found a nematode that’s moving!” The class was a ton of fun. I found myself really enjoying the view under that scope, something totally different than what I’m used to.
After the class we walked around and visited some of Rodale’s 305 acre farm, cute piglets bathing in their mud pit, oxen, goats and of course their fields. None of this, I have to remember, could be possible without all those small organisms that we often do not see.