Category: Soil

Raising Shiitake Mushrooms: An Inexpensive Delicacy

The Chinese have been using shiitake mushrooms as a nutritional and medicinal food for over 6,000 years. One of the most well-known of the edible mushroom, shiitakes have recently been discovered by the health food movement around the world and are considered to be one of the most widely available superfoods on the market. Instead of paying a premium price for shiitakes at your local health food store, however, shiitakes […]

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Terra Preta in the Amazon

Most people believe that the Amazon Rainforest is nothing but a virgin paradise of untouched wilderness. Recent studies have shown, however, that much of the Amazon might very well have been a landscape designed by the patient persistence of indigenous cultures who interacted with the land and the local ecosystems. What if the Amazon Rainforest wasn’t really an intact wilderness area, but rather the result of careful human planning over […]

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Composting Toilet Talk

Imagine the world before the invention of the toilet. While this may seem long ago, the truth is that humans have existed on Earth for a longer period of time without toilets than with them. As one may imagine, all matter that came from the Earth as food, went directly back to the Earth in a different form. Nonetheless, the environment didn’t suffer but naturally reincorporated all of the matter […]

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How to Make a Compost Water Heater

Everyone loves hot water in the home, but the ecological cost of long, hot showers powered by fossil-fueled water heaters adds some guilt to those long hours in the bathroom. What if you could have a huge supply of hot water heated by the compost pile in your garden. Instead of greenhouses gasses, the byproduct of your hot water would be more fertile soil. The Ecological Cost of Heating Water […]

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The Many Types of At-Home Composting

So you’re interested in making your own compost, but you’re overwhelmed by all of the different methods. Or maybe you’re not sure if there’s a method that will work for you. You’re in the right place. With this overview, the decision will be easy. Your first decision? Indoor or outdoor. Since there are fewer types of indoor composting systems, we will cover those first. Composting Indoors If you’ve chosen to […]

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Mushrooms for Foraging: 7 (or More) Ways to Get Started

Emma and I arrived in North Carolina about two months ago, right around the height of morel season, and that was the buzz. Morels are a very popular springtime mushroom around these parts and others in the US, but they have the reputation of being a bit elusive, difficult to find even for those who know what they are (and aren’t) looking for. As for us, other than eating them […]

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The Sustainable Use of Soil Organisms in a Climate Change Era

It has been widely acknowledged that we are in a climate change era. All forms of life are expected to mitigate or adapt to climate change to survive. It is a good practice to understand the natural green credentials associated with life around us- this will enable us to tap into such credentials and use them to further mitigate or adapt to changing environmental conditions, nd at the same time […]

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Making Modern-Day Night Soil

While the practice of collecting “night soil” from urban households in China to be repurposed as fertilizer in rural rice paddies might be somewhat outdated, the idea of using excrement to maintain soil fertility continues to be promoted by environmentalists around the world. Over the last fifteen years, humanure has become a more mainstream topic – with community groups throughout the United States urging their neighbours and municipal governments to […]

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The Top 5 Reasons You Should Start Composting Right Now

You’ve probably heard that a compost pile is a good thing to have in your garden, but do you really know what the benefits of composting are? 1. Composting is great for your garden. If you’re a gardener, then you already know that compost makes for amazing plants. The reason it so good is because it’s one of main components of healthy soil. For happy plants, the soil must have […]

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A Time-Sequencing Plan for Straw Bale Gardens

Something has never sat quite right with me about straw bale gardens in a place where soil is available. Like hydroponics, I can envision it for places that lack soil and ground space: rooftops, driveways, parking lots, and the like. Then, I’m not sure if it’s the purist in me, but the generally movement towards focusing on soil repair and permanence (my interpretation of what permaculture ideally does) rings much […]

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A Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Tillage

Soil has been described as “the fragile, living skin of the Earth” and yet its’ fragility has often been ignored in the continuous use of tillage techniques in modern agriculture. Tilling is the process of preparing land for growing crops by mechanically modifying soil structure. Other names for tilling include digging, plowing, cultivation, etc. This technique was adopted by farmers 10,000 years ago for a number of reasons. However, years […]

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Using Weeds to Read the Soil: Some Basic Concepts to Get Started

Weeds are becoming a more and more appreciated component of gardening. We have been reintroduced to eating the weeds, with things like dandelion leaves becoming a niche crop. Also, we are encouraging plants that, up until recently, were viewed as weeds (dynamic accumulators like comfrey and pioneering legumes) to revitalize our soils. And, many gardeners are once again celebrating weeds as a means of reading the soil. Geoff Lawton says […]

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