Category: Soil Biology

Mycelium Running: How Fungi Can Help Save the World

by Paul Stamets. Review by Sher June. When research biologist Paul Stamets suggests fungi can help save the world, he is absolutely serious. In fact, he contends they can rescue it in several different ways. There are the medicines to be derived from fungi, probably more than we can yet imagine. Fungi for insect pest control. Fungi can absorb and often digest toxins from their environments — toxins as diverse […]

Read More >
2 Comments

How to Increase the Rate of Biological Nitrogen Fixation

This short article is a chapter from my book “Fertilizer for Free: How to make the most from Biological Nitrogen Fixation”. One important question permaculture designers should ask themselves: Is there anything you can do to increase the rate of biological nitrogen fixation? The benefits of having more nitrogen rich organic matter in the soil are myriad. Starting with: higher general productivity richer and more diverse soil life more available […]

Read More >
17 Comments

How to Permanently Improve Your Sandy Soil

Size of a pumpkin leaf: 42 cm, that’s 16.5″. Not bad for a sandy soil! One of the problems a lot of people have is how to improve the fertility of sandy soil. One solution is to add more organic matter (compost, manure, wood chips), but unfortunately if you live in a hot and humid climate the stuff you put in the soil is going to decompose quickly, since microbial […]

Read More >
60 Comments

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 […]

Read More >
9 Comments

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 […]

Read More >
4 Comments

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 […]

Read More >
0 Comment

Soil Carbon Cowboys – Case Studies in Holistic Management (video)

Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis — heroes and innovators! These ranchers now know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. They are turning on their soils, enabling rainwater to sink into the earth, rather than run off. And these turned on soils retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought. It’s an amazing story that […]

Read More >
6 Comments

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 […]

Read More >
6 Comments

Grow Food and Soil With A Food Forest

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. […]

Read More >
20 Comments

Seeding Into Frost Heaves: Leveraging a Natural Soil Disturbance Event

A close up of frost heaves A common winter sight in most cold temperate regions are frost-heaves; areas of water-saturated soil that have been uplifted due to freezing. Frost-heaving is generally regarded as an undesirable dynamic, because it evidences a lack of organic material or mulch capable of sheltering the soil (and it’s microinhabitants) from freezing. However, on degraded and compacted sites, frost heaves are really a great opportunity for […]

Read More >
0 Comment

Propagation Using Willow Water

There are many ways to propagate plants, which can be broadly divided into sexual and asexual. Taking cuttings is an asexual method, as your new plants will be clones of the mother. The method is simply to cut a new shoot from an existing plant and encourage it to take root itself. Information abounds about which plants are best to take cuttings from, and how to go about the process, […]

Read More >
27 Comments

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 […]

Read More >
11 Comments