Wireless sensor networks can revolutionize soil ecology by providing measurements at temporal and spatial granularities previously impossible. This paper presents a soil monitoring system we developed and deployed at an urban forest in Baltimore as a first step towards realizing this vision. Network motes measure and save soil moisture and temperature in situ every minute. Raw measurements are periodically retrieved by a sensor gateway and stored in a central database where calibrated versions are derived and stored. The measurement database is published through Web Services interfaces. In addition, analysis tools let scientists analyze current and historical data and help manage the sensor network. This deployment that measures soil factors with unprecedented temporal precision. However, the deployment required device-level programming, sensor calibration across space and time, and cross-referencing measurements with external sources. The database, web server, and data analysis design also required considerable innovation. So the ratio of computer-scientists to ecologists was 3:1. Before sensor networks can fulfill their potential as high-quality instruments that can be deployed by scientists without major effort or cost, these technical problems must be addressed so that the ratio is one nerd per ten ecologists.