Gardening may seem like a right-brain activity, full of contemplative moments and pretty flower arrangements. Wired would argue otherwise — it's a geeky science project, and they encourage learning the science and trickery behind soil, pollination and other garden basics.
One of the first things to learn about is dirt — or, actually, that you don't want dirt. You want soil, which is something else entirely and full of crazy-specific details and history:
Soil is about as interesting as anything gets in this life. It's a mixture of rock particles, water, air, organic matter, and microorganisms-lovely creatures such as nematodes, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes. O the varieties of being! Only 45 percent of soil consists of minerals, with particles ranging in size from clay (less than 0.00008 inch in diameter) to silt (0.00008 to 0.002 inch) to sand (0.002 to 0.08 inch). Clay makes for terrific soil, owing to its high cation-exchange capacity, a measure of fertility. It can also suck the boot right off your foot.
Soils can be alluvial, colluvial, loess-and it matters. You will need to familiarize yourself with the pore space and texture of your soil and learn to promote aerobic versus anaerobic decomposition. Just repeat: Friable is desirable.
What's the nerdiest aspect of gardening that you absolutely love? Share your not-so-secret obsession in the comments.