Category: Soil

Weeds Aren’t Actually All That Bad

Weeds, many say, are but misunderstood plants, plants that have somehow fallen out of favor. Often, they are ready growers, keen to pop up where space has allowed, and typically they are doing so to perform some sort of vital ecological function. Geoff Lawton says they are “symptom” of a flawed situation rather than the actual problem.   Weeds are working to right wrongs. They cover the ground. They prevent erosion. […]

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How to Make Instant Garden Beds

A common problem when just starting a garden is dealing with the fact that we’ve not had time to condition the soil, fostering it into something heaving with fertility. Or, maybe we just aren’t that far into gardening yet anyway and don’t know what to do. Basically, it seems we are left with the option of using what we have and hoping for the best, or we can spend a […]

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Straw Bale Gardens

What do straw, paint brushes and the human blood circularity system have in common?     The answer is capillaries, very narrow, long tubes. It is this physical characteristic of straw which gives its remarkable ability to become the soil of a garden bed. Large amounts of water and nutrients can be held within the straws capillaries. This is an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This conversion from straw to soil makes […]

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What to do with bad soil 

After watching the sun set and the full moon rise atop my neighbour Sergey’s hill which overlooks the entire eco-village, he walks me back to my tent hidden in the midst of young pine trees upon the insistence of his mother (“You need to walk the young lady all the way to the door of her tent, you hear me?”). His cat Murka (Moor-kah, meaning purr-cat) follows her human grandma’s […]

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Understanding Biological Farming: A simplified understanding of ‘compost tea’ a plant and soil probiotic

In ideal soil ecosystems, we would have dramatically different soil and certainly a dramatically different level of ‘made made’ toxins. In an ideal soil environment, we would expect our topsoil to contain 10% organic matter, and would also expect to have literally thousands of species of bacteria and hundreds of species of fungi. In most soils today, we often have a humus content of less than 1% with just a […]

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Common Composting Problems and Solutions for the Beginning Composter

Composting is standard practice on any permaculture site. This is the case for several reasons. It creates a closed waste cycle between vegetable scraps and vegetable production, often with the added bonus (an in-between stop) of animal fodder. It helps to rebuild or maintain healthy, balanced soil by feeding the soil life and creating a steady replenishment of nutrients, and nutrient-rich soil makes for nutrient-rich food. In simple terms, composting […]

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Principles for Designing a Holistic Food System

Most people have an unconscious feeling that we can´t continue down the path we´re currently on. The supposed abundance witnessed on the shelves of our local grocery store might seem promising, but deep down we know that we can´t continue to outsource our need for food to a system that is so deeply indebted to the quickly depleting reserves of oil and other fossil fuels. We know that something needs […]

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No-Till Farming for Healthier Soil and Lifestyles

Masanobu Fukuoka, the late Japanese farmer, developed a unique farming system he called “Natural Farming.” Trying to replicate what he saw in Nature, Fukuoka´s no till system allowed the soil to continually grow in fertility. Through the use of mulch and cover crops, this system effectively allows for continuous harvests of crop rotations, eliminates weeds and builds healthy top soil allowing for organic food production that is ecologically sustainable. Problems […]

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Soil Erosion and Its Monetary Cost

The modernized food industry has pushed farming practices to the back burner in the eyes of consumers. Still, the majority of our food comes from the land. That being said, the issue of soil erosion isn’t making front pages, but amongst those that lobby around organic farming and environmental health issues have identified the degradation as increasingly problematic. In order to help the problem, activists are looking for help from […]

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Manure: An Overview of This Shi…ning Addition to the Garden

Manure: An Overview of This Shi…ning Addition to the Garden

Organic gardens really benefit from manure, and that is no mystery. However, it’s important to be aware of what kind of manure is at your disposal because they are not all equally desirable. Some manures, dare we say, are choice garden additions, while others take a lot of coaxing, a slow and patient cook, from composting gurus. Chicken manure is vastly different from cow manure, which is largely different dog […]

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The Top Composting Toilet Designs

One of the most unsustainable aspects of our current civilization is related to how we deal with our own waste. For thousands of years, agrarian civilizations have understood that the fertility that one takes from the land in the form of crops, must be returned to the land in a similar manner. Both animal and human wastes have been used by indigenous and peasant cultures to maintain the sacred balance […]

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A Primer on Creating Soil

Good agriculture depends on good soil. The problem over the past 10,000 years of our human attempt to live off the land (and especially during the last sixty years or so), is that crops take nutrients from the soil, and without proper husbandry, soil fertility will deplete. The “pseudo-solution” offered by the Green Revolution has been to import petroleum-based fertilizers to make up for our lack of stewardship of the […]

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