April’s Soil Health Events

April Forum: The Soil Will Save Us
Thursday, April 8 6:30 – 8:00 pm

"The Soil Will Save Us"

In her talk, Ohlson introduced some of the visionaries from her beautifully researched book. She shared stories from scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers—who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil including the herd of microorganisms that escape our notice. Better land management practices, that lead to healthy soils, can help solve a myriad of problem: including drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change.

If you missed this event, CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE RECORDING.

Get to Know Your Dirt!
Thursday, April 22

cross-section of soil

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to dig up some dirt and join OLWC naturalists in exploring what makes up healthy soil. 

Join us from 5-6:30 in an interactive Zoom presentation as we will look at soil samples and investigate together the complexities of productive soil.

Soil is so much more than just sand, silt and clay. The “clay” dirt in your backyard can be changed into productive soil. 

"Soil Your Undies" Kick-off!
Saturday, April 24  

Time To Bury Those Undies!

Have you ever wanted to bury a pair of tighty whities? This is your chance!

Join the Oswego Lake Watershed Council in exploring the health of soils in our community. When you bury your undies the 100% cotton fabric is eaten by soil microbes. The more fabric that disappears the healthier your soil!

Did you miss the free undie give-away? You can still participate in the "Soil Your Undies" action using your own pair:

  1. Bury your undies in your garden. INSTRUCTIONS
  2. Dig up your undies the first week in July and share them at the "Display your Undies" Event on July 7 or by sharing a picture.

Soil Your Undies!

2021 “Soil Your Undies” Campaign Schedule

  • Saturday, April 24Soil Your Undies Kick Off – Lakeridge and Lake Oswego High Schools 10am – 2pm. Come pick up a free pair of 100% cotton tighty- whities to bury in your yard. 
  • Wednesday, July 7 – Dig up your undies and share what happened to them.

What happens when you bury a brand-new pair of 100% cotton underwear in your garden under 6 inches of soil, wait 60 days, and then dig them up? Now is your chance to find out!

Coinciding with Earth Day and Arbor Month this April, Oswego Lake Watershed Council (OLWC) is encouraging our community to get their hands dirty and participate in the “Soil Your Undies” challenge!

  • Find out what role healthy soil plays in creating a healthy forest.
  • Learn about the microscopic organisms that break down organic material for food, returning vital nutrients back to the ecosystem.
  • Join the community in a fun experiment that shows how healthy our soil in Lake Oswego is through the Soil Your Undies campaign.
Time To Bury Those Undies!

Goals of OLWC’s “Soil Your Undies” Campaign

  • Develop community understanding of the importance of microorganisms to healthy soils.
  • Develop community understanding of the importance of soil in carbon sequestration.
  • Encourage the community to embrace development and maintenance of healthy, living soils as a community climate action.

The more your undies break down while buried in the soil, the more active the biological community in your soil is!

Soil Health demo using undies

During OLWC’s Soil Your Undies campaign, we encourage participants to engage with their community online via Facebook and Instagram  to learn more about soil health. We will be sharing fun soil facts, quizzes (some with sticker prizes!), and before and after photos of the “soiled” undies!

We have created easy-to-use instructions, online and printable data sheets to log conditions where the undies were buried, and the opportunity to create an optional weekly science journal documenting and sharing observations about the soil and environment where the undies were buried.

At the end of the 60-day period (likely in September, depending on when you buried your undies), we encourage our community to share their before and after photos of the underwear using #SoilYourUndies #LOBuriedTreasure #LOBriefs #OLWC and #ClackBriefs, or by sending an email to stephanie@oswegowatershed.org.

After we have received results from everyone, we will share a report with everyone who participated that contains results, before and after photos, and reflective writings about the project.

Other Resources:

Special thanks to Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD), and the USDA/NRCS Oregon. Check out additional resources and see other Soil Your Undies Campaigns here!

Soil Your Undies Campaign

It’s Time to Bury Those Undies!

We know you have questions! Click on a topic below to get started.

How Do I Properly Bury My Undies?

It’s easy! First, make sure that the undies you are burying are undyed and made of 100% cotton, otherwise the experiment may not work. It is important to have something that is not 100% cotton attached (the nylon band in undies will work just fine) in case you have really active soil- you want something attached that will not be easily eaten by microbes in the soil. Once you have the appropriate materials, it is time to say goodbye to those undies for two months.

We also want to gather some information about where you bury your undies and how you take care of your garden. Collecting this data will help us track changes as we all work to develop healthy soils. We will be creating a community-wide Soil Your Undies map and will be keeping track of the data , so please share information about your undies by visiting THIS ONLINE FORM, or downloading THIS PRINTABLE FORM. If you elect to use the printable data sheet, please email the results to stephanie@oswegowatershed.org.

Before burying your undies, give them a name (for identification within the community)

Here are some tips to make your experiment a success:

  • Bury your undies in approximately 6-8 inches of soil. This is the root zone, where most of the biological activities occur.
  • Lay the undies flat in the hole you buried – avoid any crumpling or wrinkling.
  • Take a photo in the hole before you cover them with dirt. Don’t forget to share photos with us on social media using #LOUndies #ClackBriefs #OLWCUndies #LOBriefs and #SoilYourUndies. You can also email your photo to stephanie@oswegowatershed.org 
  • Mark the site so you can find it again. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!
  • Check on your site at least once a week, without unburying the undies. If the soil looks dry, you may need to water the area. Water the area as needed to keep the soil moist, Make sure to document when you water the soil where you buried your undies.

Now that you have buried your undies, it is time to mark the date you will unbury the undies on your calendar! Wait at least 2 months (approximately 60 days) before digging up the soiled underwear. OLWC will be sending out a reminder email 2 months from now to all participants.  We are planning a Reveal Your Undies event for July 7, 2021.  We’ll be sharing details in June.

How Do I Find My Latitude/Longitude?

This is all locational data for our community map.

While there are apps for smartphones,the easiest way is probably to use Google Maps. Instructions for doing this using various devices HERE.

You can also just put the street address on the printed form. Latitude and longitude is better for a more accurate location, but an address can be converted to latitude / longitude easily.

What Can I Expect While I Wait?

OLWC will be posting interactive content, soil trivia, and fun facts about soil health throughout the next 2 months on Facebook and Instagram. For those who prefer not to use social media, we will be sending similar engaging content (articles, photos, ETC) to participants via email. To receive emails about the Soil Your Undies community-wide experiment, please email our Community Outreach Specialist, Kat, at kat@oswegowatershed.org

What’s Happening in My Soil?

In healthy soil, there are millions of microscopic organisms that break down and eat organic material (such as leaves, decaying plants or animals, or 100% cotton underwear) over time. Think of how leaves that fall onto the ground during the Fall season seem to disappear before Spring arrives- that is because many of the leaves have been digested by tiny insects and other microorganisms. The leaf litter that was present during the Fall and Winter seasons have become part of the soil. Cotton is an organic material (it comes from a plant!), so this process is what will “soil” your cotton undies while they are buried. The less recognizable your undies are when you dig them up in 2 months, the more active your soil’s microbes are

Why Should I Care About my Soiled Undies?

If when you unbury your undies in 2 months, you pull up ragged undies that are full of holes, you have healthy soil. There are many benefits to keeping healthy soil, here are just a few:

  • Healthy soil with active microbes are more likely to be rich in nutrients needed by plants. This means that having a healthy soil will make it easier for plants to thrive in your garden.
  • Soil with high amounts of organic matter can hold more water, which prevents excess runoff and increases the soil’s resilience to drought. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), organic matter can hold 18-20 times its weight in water!
  • Soil with high amounts of organic matter can help mitigate climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in a carbon “pool” (carbon sequestration).