Category: Soil Biology

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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Fungal Soil: What Is It and Why Do We Want It?

Look at all those Fun Guys! Do not eat! Little brown mushrooms can be poisonous… and extremely whimsical. Wood chips make a good mulch for woody plants. To go a step further, you want to use ramial wood chips, which are wood chips made from the outer reaches of a deciduous tree. That means the smaller branches, including the leaves if possible, and not so much the trunk and thicker […]

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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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Does Comfrey Really Improve Soil?

All of us who have studied permaculture have heard some impressive claims about comfrey. It is a dynamic nutrient accumulator; it improves the soil; it is “a slow motion fountain” of nutrients, bringing them up from the subsoil to improve the topsoil. We’ve heard lots of anecdotal evidence, but where is the empirical data for these claims? Peter Harper’s article in The Land last summer, “Permaculture: the Big Rock Candy […]

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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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Earthworms at Work

The last post of Phillip Bradley was about no till farming practices, cover cropping and direct sowing. We have farmers in France doing this also. They are very active, always testing new cover crops and different ways to work. Here is their site, with plenty of videos — sometimes in English, usually in French. These French farmers are passionate about worms — because worms work for them all the time. […]

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Under Cover Farmers (videos)

While researching cover cropping, I came across the video above, featuring an explanation from the Rodale Institute (U.S.) of their “No Till Roller Crimper” which is used to lay down the cover crop in a no till farming environment. Another video I uncovered (below) may be of interest to those pursuing permaculture practice in the larger scale farming environment. It is called “Under Cover Farmers” and investigates the cover cropping/no […]

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Phosphorous Starvation Threatens the World

A fully referenced version of this paper is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here. The world is running short of phosphate ore for chemical fertilizers; recovering phosphate from waste and reducing phosphate use in phosphate rich countries can alleviate the shortage and simultaneously prevent environmental pollution. by Prof Joe Cummins Phosphorus a limiting nutrient Earth seems to be growing sicker every year along with […]

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Keyline Design as an Organizing Pattern for Permaculture Design, Part 3 (Sweden)

This is the third of a series of articles looking at design considerations for our Cold Climate Permaculture site using the Keyline Scale of Permanence as a organizing framework, as well as an informative read for anyone interested.

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A Simple Recipe for Fertiliser Tea

This is a very simple fertiliser tea recipe which all plants I have used it on have responded very well to. It uses wild plants which are generally abundant throughout Europe, although I am not sure about the rest of the world; you’ll have to look around for yourself. The ratio I used here is approximately 1kg of plants to 10 litres of water. Since you may not have scales […]

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Introduction to Naturalised Nursery Practice

Applying the understandings of ecosystem mimicry to create alternative solutions to current nursery practices of disease control, fertilisation and sterile mediums. It is my belief that nature is our greatest teacher. By observing nature we can see that a tree in a forest is self-maintaining. It does not rely on fertilisation, irrigation, pesticides or fungicides to produce healthy growth. It’s only with today’s technology we are beginning to bear witness […]

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