Category: Soil

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“night soil” from urban households in China to be repurposed as fertilizer in rural rice paddies might be somewhat outdated, the idea of using excrement to maintain soil fertility continues to be promoted by environmentalists around the world.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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Soil Contamination: Its Causes, Effects, and Solutions

What is Soil Contamination? Soil contamination refers to the destruction of land that could be used constructively by human activities, either directly or indirectly. Presently, 300,000 ha of UK land is thought to be contaminated by toxic elements such as lead and arsenic. The same goes for the other industrialized nations which are the worst hit. The developing countries are also steadily but surely moving toward this direction.This should be […]

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Aggressive Fungus Found Growing in Outer Space

Scientists are considering the implications of an “aggressive space fungus” identified on the outside of the Russian space station Mir. Patches of the green and black fungus have been discovered behind control panels, in the ship’s air conditioner, communications unit, and on many other surfaces. Not only was the fungus growing everywhere, the patches proved difficult to eradicate. According to Russian microbiologist Natalia Novikova, there is the potential that in […]

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The Secret Under Your Feet: Soil

If you’re new to organic homesteading, you might have the romantic idea that since you are growing food the “natural” way, all you need to do is sow some seeds and Mother Nature will take care of the rest. Sadly, this isn’t true. If you’re planning to turn your yard into a permaculture paradise, don’t waste all your hard work by ignoring a vital step: improving your soil. You can’t […]

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Soil Temperature and Seed Germination

A few days ago we sowed the tomato seeds for this season’s market and home garden. It never ceases to amaze me what little indoor space you need to rear thousands of seedlings. We use two 50 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm trays to germinate approx 150 seedlings from 10 cultivars. When they get bigger we move them into two 1.3 x 8 m beds covered with polythene to rear them before they take their permanent positions in the gardens in early – mid April.

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