Category: Soil Composition

Low-Tech Natural Nursery Strategies (Washington, USA)

When most people think about nurseries and plant propagation, they conjure up rows and rows of black pots and the smell of moist palettes of artificial fertilizer. But there is no natural law which dictates this to be the only, or even a preferable way in which to propagate plants. While in-situ propagation from seed has been proven to be the healthiest and most energy efficient means of mass propagating […]

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How to Steal from Your Neighbors and Have Them Love You For It (Panama)

Stolen leaves over yucca plants with banana circle backer The first time I did it I did so on the sly. I needed some mulch for a piece of dried up clay I was hoping to convert into a forest floor upon which I planned to grow a food forest. The piece of land next door was thick with leaves, and having seen the groundskeeper over there laboring with a […]

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Soil Science Basics for Beginners

by Aaron Jerad It’s dark. You are surrounded by giant flesh eating amoebas. You can’t move very fast…. Welcome to the world of the bacteria, the smallest but most abundant member of the soil food web. Often feared but essential, whether directly or indirectly, for the survival of almost all other living organisms on earth. Cover cropping, mulching and composting are three great ways to build soil. In this photo […]

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Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming

There is a powerful means of addressing the challenges of carbon capture and climate change — promoting photosynthesis! This means good old fashion farming and gardening — covering the earth with a vast range of trees, flora and crops. Amongst other benefits, a rich diversity of plant species and agricultural practice that is poly-cultural and perennial in orientation, enriches the soil, promotes healthy microbiology, sequesters carbon, fosters more effective hydration […]

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Designer Resource: Getting Soil Data from the USDA Web Soil Survey (USA)

Soil is one of the basic resources that we have when beginning to work with land. Along with water, climatic patterns, and existing ecosystems, soils form the canvas on which we paint our agro-ecological life support systems. In the US the Web Soil Survey (WSS) managed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service operates one of the largest soil resource information systems in the world. Soils of […]

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Dung Beetles – The Underground Army Enriching the Soil

This video gives an overview of the benefits of establishing and managing dung beetles. Dung beetles are fascinating insects, working tirelessly to bury dung around the country. One cow per day produces approximately 18kg of dung. These beetles process the dung by burying it deep into the soil and helping the plant roots to access them directly. In a way they are also providing food for the earth worms. When […]

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Grow Food and Soil With A Food Forest

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Soil before and after After ten years of learning from and collaborating with a mega-diverse, globally inspired, edible forest garden, new wonders are under foot. Paradise Lot, here in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA, has a soil story to tell, and we are finally getting around to deciphering its wonders. Since 2004, each year we installed a portion of our design of perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants into sheet mulched garden beds. […]

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Differences in Tilled and No Till Soils – A Demonstration

In this video agronomist Mark Scarpitti of USDA-NRCS Ohio state demonstrates the differences between tilled and no-till soils by doing two simple tests. Slide test: In this test, a piece of soil is put in water to check how soil structure is held together. When water starts to rush into the porous spaces in the soil, tilled soil starts falling apart as there are nothing to hold the soil particles […]

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Building Up Soil for a Nutrient-Rich Raised Bed

All photos by David Ashwanden A lot of permaculture involves utilising waste streams and turning problems into solutions, and I often bring these into practice by looking at what’s available around me and how I can use it effectively. With this in mind, having come across some old bath tubs, I decided to create some raised beds, building up the soil using a layer mulch recipe rich in a mix […]

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Soil: The Hidden Frontier

Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about patterns. We are taught to “zen-out” so we can observe patterns in nature and society. But if patterns are the glue in permaculture, how do we begin to pick apart the patterns that we can’t even see with the naked eye? Enter world renowned soil biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham and her rowdy band of critters known as the soil food web. Dr. Ingham has spent […]

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Omaha Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health – Presentation Resources

Recently, I had the honor of attending a national conference on cover crops and soil health. The conference was held in Omaha, Nebraska on February 17th to the 19th, sponsored primarily by the Howard G Buffett foundation and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education). The attendees represented university specialists, seed vendors, farmers, non-profit groups, and government organizations focused on how to improve the health of our nation’s soils.

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Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of Natural Farming

Sage of a minimalist farming system based on non-violence and all of nature’s biodiversity that produces in abundance with no chemical inputs. by Bharat Mansata Bhaskar Save, acclaimed ‘Gandhi of Natural Farming’, turned 92 on 27 January 2014, having inspired and mentored 3 generations of organic farmers. Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese natural farmer, visited Save’s farm in 1996, and described it as “the best in the world”, ahead of […]

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