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News

The sounds of Permaculture

I was lucky enough to see the Formidable Vegetable Sound System perform live in a small hall a few months ago.

They are spreading a great message about permacultre, growing food & all things sustainable using entertainment & music.

I really enjoyed the gypsy, eclectic, electro-swing sounds & the vibrant message & so I decided to buy the CD.
Instead of a CD & was given a packet of rocket seeds which contained a note with the link to download the CD.... truly creative & sustainable way of spreading the seeds....
I really dig those guys (excuse the pun but I had to say it...) & I hear over the grape vine that they are doing really well in Europa & the UK too. 



How to test your soil

Sifting Through the Soil:

A Simple Soil Science Test

You can help your soil support your plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns by learning what it is made of. Testing your soil involves a simple do-at-home science experience that you can complete in an afternoon.

Like many gardeners, I tend to focus my efforts at ground level. I weed, water, and mulch on a regular basis. I replace plants that don’t make it through various weather stressors and give a little TLC to those that did. But it turns out the interactions under the soil may be at the root of much that goes right—and wrong—for my lawn, trees, flowers, plants and vegetables.

Of course we all think about soil, right? That’s why we mulch and fertilize. But soil isn’t a constant: it gets depleted and if you don’t like what it’s doing to your plants, it can be changed for the better. The easiest way to get to know your soil better is to figure out what it is made of and what it is lacking. For that, there’s the mason jar test.

WHY TEST YOUR SOIL?

Dirt may look pretty straightforward—dirt is dirt, right? But the soil in your garden beds and under your lawn is actually made up of several components: clay, sand, and silt, as well as water, air, and organic matter. The proportions of clay, sand, and silt are what determine how well your soil supports the things that are growing, how much moisture it holds, and how well it drains.

Of those three, clay and sand are the most familiar. When viewed up close and under a microscope, clay is the smallest mineral and it holds tight to water. The problem? Too much clay in your soil and you end up with a sticky, mucky mess that won’t drain and stays cold much longer in the spring than sand or silt.

Silt is the middle-size element in soil, while sand particles are the largest. Just like sand at the beach, sand in your soil drains quickly and has trouble holding onto essential nutrients that plants rely on. Translation? You have to water and fertilize lots more than you probably want to.

When silt, sand, and clay combine in just-right proportions, the result is loam. That’s the holy grail of garden soil, the black gold that will help your plants stay nourished, drain well, and retain water when needed.

If the percentages of sand, silt, and clay in your soil are less than ideal, you’ll also be able to feel differences in the soil. Sandy soil is gritty, and if wet it doesn’t hold its shape. Clay soil is sticky—think playing with clay when you were a kid—and holds together too firmly. Loam will feel rich and hold its shape when wet, but breaks apart into meaty pieces.

HOW TO TEST YOUR SOIL

Most state extension services will perform a detailed soil analysis for a small fee, but you have to wait for the results. Many people take a soil sample in spring, but you can home-test the soil at any time during the year. There are soil test kits for sale at most home improvement stores, but a no-cost, at-home soil test is simple, can be done in any spot in your garden, and takes just a glass jar. Once you complete the test, you can use the results to figure out what to add to your soil to improve it.

Step-by-Step Soil Test

  • Clean a pint or quart mason jar and lid
  • Fill the jar about halfway with soil. I like to do several different tests, isolating spots in the garden—a jar from each flower bed, for example. That’s because the soil may differ from spot to spot
  • Fill up the rest of the jar with water, leaving a bit of headspace in order to shake up the contents
  • Tighten the lid and give the jar a good shake for two to three minutes
  • Put the jar down and let it rest for four to five hours. As the jar is resting, you might notice the soil doing something interesting: It’s separating into distinct layers: sand at the bottom, silt in the middle, and clay at the top.

ANALYZE YOUR SOIL

After completing the soil test, you need to determine the percentages in your mason jar. Measure each of the three layers and calculate approximately how much space each takes up in the jar. That’s the approximate makeup of your soil, and indicates what soil type you have

HOW TO FIX YOUR SOIL

Once you’ve tested your soil and found it lacking, you have several options for your plants. If you haven’t dug a garden bed or hole for a new tree, you can try to find a better spot in your landscape, one that has soil that’s closer to loam that your original site.

But for existing garden beds or just-perfect landscape spots, there are ways to try to improve the soil. The simplest way to improve any soil that’s less than ideal is to add organic matter, such as compost, regularly. If you purchase compost, add a 2-inch-thick layer in spring. Mulch made of organic matter—wood chips, for example—helps, too, as do yard trimmings—pretty much anything that decomposes and makes your less-than-ideal soil more amenable to growing plants successfully.

Source: Fix.com



Simple composting infographic

This info-graphic courtesy of the team at fix.com provides a good graphic display of composting benefits & acts as a simple guide to composting.

Find out how to properly set up your compost bin and learn about the benefits of composting; from enriching soil, to reducing emissions and lessening the use of chemical fertilizers!


Source: Fix.com

Hairloom Vegetables & Flowers - what are they & why to grow them

Heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties have grown enormously in popularity with home and market gardeners alike in recent years
Many people are turning or returning to home gardening for a variety of reasons, and heirloom seeds figure prominently.
Some of these include an interest in fresh, local and healthy foods, Organic foods, concerns with GMO seeds, others need to stretch the family food budget, and still others are searching for the lost flavours of the family garden when they were growing up.

What are Heirloom seeds, vegetables & flowers?

Heirloom seeds are rare, precious and treasured seeds that grow into plants that can bear seed just like their parents. They can reproduce themselves as Nature intended, parent to child, child to parent, and so forth. Heirlooms can be either open-pollinated, which is pollination carried on by bees, butterflies, wind and other natural methods, or, hand pollinated by loving and dedicated farmers.

Why grow Heirloom varieties ?

  1. 1.The most classic and well preserved delicious varieties

  2. 2.Careful cultivation over centuries, picking best of best
  3. 3.More pronounced natural flavors

  4. 4.Many many years of pest and blight resistance
  5. 5.Non-chemically or genetically modified or altered

  6. 6.Free from fungicides, pesticides or biocides

  7. 7.Free from chemicals and preservatives

  8. 8.Good tolerance to environmental stresses

  9. 9.Good resistance to fungus, bacteria, virus

  10. 10.Mostly conceived and grown organically

  11. 11.Considered the most gourmet of varieties

  12. 12.Not artificially cross-pollinated resulting in sterility
  13. 13.Biodiverse - mixture of the best genetics
  14. 14.Considered the most flavorful, sweet and delicious of all

  15. 15.The Best of the Best seed collected season after season
  16. 16.Preservation of the most quality seed with high yield 

to findout more, see videos & a list of Heirloom seed suppliers see our Heirloom web page



Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

This is one of the most inspirational talks I ever heard. I was lucky enought to hear Paul talk in person for over 2 hours about the wonderfull ways mushrooms can help us human beings

 



Website launched

Finally we completed the site & migrated all products & customer information to it. 

It was a long journey & we hope you like what you see. we will appreciate your feedback & we will continue to add products & useful content.

Again, many thanks to the great team at Birddog marketing who helped us through-out this project & responded fast to all our questions as well as the any small & large changes which were required.




Biological Farming is the Future

Biological Farming - according to Dr Elaine Ingham.

 

We begin with understanding the issues at hand:

  • Nutrient supply
  • water supply
  • bio-diversity
  • weed control
  • pest control
  • the need to improve quality of production
  • the need to improve soil fertility
  • the need to reduce input costs while maintaining production and
  • the need to establish fair marketing


What we teach is the practical side of biological farming so that it can be applied and understood on the farm.

We start with specifically designed inoculum compost as a rich source of beneficial soil microbes. This compost is made from a wide range of possible materials; we classify them broadly as "brown" (straw and sawdust - carbon/carbohydrate source), "green" (hay or green waste - sugar/carbohydrate source), and "high N" (proteins) such as manures.

Compost can be made in piles from 1 cu m that start in the backyard and are turned with a garden fork, to thousands of cubic metres turned with sophisticated mechanical turners. Larger systems may also include “nutrient recovery” programs involving the analysis of local waste streams as system inputs.

As this system is based in the production and application of beneficial soil microbes, it must be monitored to ensure best results. 'Best results' means that we are getting the best diversity of beneficial microbes possible for conditions, inputs, management and applications while remembering that we are “growing” compost for its microbes, not just decomposed organic matter for its organic content, carbon and nutrients.

To make "good compost" we need simple methodologies to ensure that the farmer/practitioner can easily and effectively implement this ultimately complex system and use it successfully to increase production. This system of sustainable agriculture management using soil biology allows us to build topsoil, reduce the need for water and nutrient input, provide productive plants with what they need when they need it through healthy nutrient cycling and ultimately return to profitable and enjoyable farming.

 

Simple and reliable:

    1. When we make compost (whether by the kilo or by the tonne) we are growing beneficial microbes. This is living compost, not just decomposed organic matter, and the more diverse the materials we use, the more microbial diversity we achieve.

 

    1. We need to monitor the specific requirements of compost to ensure that ‘living compost’ stays alive and is teeming with beneficial microbes, not pathogens.

 

    1. We monitor compost by the simple but essential measurement of temperature and moisture. Just as we get familiar with growing crops, or raising animals, we are able to learn to become familiar with “growing” compost.

 

    1. We learn how to use this specialized compost (or soil microbe inoculum) for the best benefit and we can devise ways to apply it with the least energy. This is a valuable input so we use it where it counts.

 

    1. We understand that using the soil biology approach to organic management allows us to grow more for less and reduce inputs over time while maintaining or increasing production.

 

  1. We understand that “sustainable” in this sense means that production is not at the cost of the system but actually enhances the productive system and literally builds soils and nutrients over time.

Once we have made ‘living’ compost, which is essentially an inoculum of beneficial soil microbes specifically chosen and designed to support our productive system, we then need to explore the simplest methods of application for best results. We must also keep in mind that our primary intention is to re-vitalize degraded soils, knowing that other positive outcomes follow from this.

 

Methods of application:

    1. We use the bulk inoculum compost and spread this on our fields or incorporate it into our soils. This can be by the litre when we plant trees and vines or by the tonne when we spread it broad-acre (applications exceeding 5 tonnes per hectare are normal).

 

    1. We may chose to “extract” the microbes off the compost and into water using a “microbe extractor” over a period of just a few hours. This can be done by the litre or by thousands of litres at a time. When we ‘extract’ the beneficial microbes from the organic matter and into the compost the microbes become dislocated and have to find a new place to colonize. Once the microbes are washed off the organic matter and are in a solution, this solution can be applied to soils as a ‘microbial extraction’ where microbes then re-establish their colonies and support healthy production.

 

    1. We can also make ‘compost tea’ when we extract the microbes off the organic matter into water and then add “microbe foods” (such as liquid fish, liquid kelp, liquid humate and unsulfured molasses) to begin the compost tea brewing process. With careful monitoring, we grow hundreds of thousands of microbes into thousands of millions over a 24-hour period. This solution (the compost tea) is then applied to soils and foliage. The microbes at this time are largely active and reproducing and this is essential when applying as a foliar spray, as foliar coverage depends on this level of activity.

 

    1. Testing, monitoring and education are essential. This is a balanced and complex system that has been reduced to a simple form so that it can be made and applied realistically in the field.

 

  1. We advance more rapidly when we co-operate by sharing information, progress, yields, seeds and marketing opportunities.



GroundGrocer in Fiji

fiji-story.jpg

GroundGrocer has been retained by Fiji-based start-up company Recycle & Composting Fiji to assist in the production of their Bioactive Compost range.

Based on Viti Levu, the largest of the Fiji Islands, in the South Pacific, Recycle & Composting Fiji are using ingredients sourced from local chicken and sugar cane industries.

They are using compost windrow technology and a range of monitoring equipment supplied by GroundGrocer.

Ongoing consultancy support from GroundGrocer includes technical advice, periodic monitoring and business development advice and planning.

Contact us to find out how we can assit with the development and growth of your composting business!

info@groundgrocer.com




Humus Saves The World - Graeme Sait from Nutri-Tech at TEDx

An important message from Graeme Sait of Nuti tech 

I was recently asked to do a presentation for the Australian version of TED.com.
These talks represent an opportunity to share important ideas with the world. Last year TED talks achieved over one billion views, so it can be a remarkable tool to sponsor change.

I chose to speak about an issue of unparalleled importance at this point in time - the role of farmers in literally saving the planet.
The presentation called 'Humus Saves The World', offers a range of proactive strategies that allows everyone the opportunity to replace apathy with action in this most important of issues.

This week the planet reached a milestone where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400ppm for the first time in 3 million years.
This talk is a desperate call to action and I am hopeful that you might decide to share this message with as many people as possible within your network.
This is important because if the video receives enough views, it will attract the attention of those that make the decisions about expanding the coverage to the main TED website.
If you can find the small amount of time to watch this presentation, 
I am sure you will agree that the message is so urgent, that it needs to get out there.
Sharing this it will help. 

Thank you.

Graeme 

 



New website is coming

Groundgrocer.com is getting a facelift 

We are redeveloping our website with the help of local marking company birddog

The main aims for the site are: easier to use, faster to load & mobile friendly

 We are hoping to launch it before the end of the year

Watch this space.....