How Soil Unites Us: Nic Jelinski, Soil Scientist

 

Hi Folks, I am taking a couple of weeks off this summer from scheduled interviewing for my podcast series. However, I have a great lineup. Some of my guests like Mark Shepard and Craig Floyd have youtube videos and TED Talks. I’m kicking off July with Nic Jelinski, soil scientist, and a great speaker. Enjoy.

Description: Dirt, soil, the stuff we walk on, grow our food in, dig up and build with is our lifeblood here on this planet. Soil scientists like Nic Jelinski bring the nature of soil home in practical ways. He is making a difference and contributing to our understanding of how invaluable our land is. Have we forgotten? I think so. With so many environmental issues facing us today, folks like Nic and others are reminding us of the many roles soils play in our landscape and for the health and vitality of future generations.

Soils are water purifiers, manufacturing facilities, recycling systems, plant growth systems, and provide food and shelter for countless species, growth medium for food and more. We are beginning to look more deeply into the soil beneath our feet. Isn’t it interesting that as we unlock our inner potential as a species we also unlock the mysteries of soil, the dirt under us? As we explore the deep underground places within us, we explore the deep earth we cannot see. Ironic.

Nic’s talk is engaging, timely and important to our understanding of this precious resource we have exploited across the planet. Now is the time for practical action.

I hope you will give a good thought to his message. What is one practical action you can take today to take care of the land? All comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

White Clover, an Underappreciated Beauty

 

 

 

 

 

While we wait for the rain to stop here in the NE, spring flowers brighten up our landscapes. The grass is an ‘Emerald City’ green. Bulbs rise, flower, come and go as we place seeds in the ground for early crops. Clovers will be coming up soon though I kinda take the little white clover blossoms for granted.

Botanical name: Trifolium repens

Common names: white clover, shamrock

Parts used: whole plant, Peterson’s field guides to medicinal plants states the entire plant can be used.

Uses: teas, washes for sores, ulcers, very popular in Europe. This plant was brought to our country with the early settlers during the 1600-1700’s. It’s short, a perennial and flowers from April to September with shamrock type leaves. As you can imagine, looking for four-leafed clover was and is considered a sign of good luck. In Europe, flower tea was used for rheumatism and gout. In North America, the Native Americans used the leaf tea for colds, coughs, and fevers.

Jethro Kloss, an American icon in the world of herbalism, lived from 1863 to 1946 and practiced herbal medicine. He used white clover blossoms in a tea to cleanse the system, especially if ulcers, boils or other skin ailments were present. He also noted that poultices, tea washes applied externally, helped heal sores, ulcers too.

White clover has been used for many years as a ground cover. It is useful as a ground cover for its nitrogen-fixing properties. There are nodules on the roots that literally grab nonusable nitrogen from the air and with the help of bacteria convert it into a plant usable form which is important for plant growth and provides protein source for foraging animals.

Benefits of White Clover: (from the University of Hawaii cooperative extension service pdf.)

1. Excellent for attracting beneficial insects, for reduced- or non-chemical pest management, for controlling erosion, suppressing weeds once established,

2. …and as a source of organic nitrogen good for quick growth and establishment,

3. …for bearing equipment traffic

4. …tolerates low fertility soils

5…. fair shade tolerance suitable for higher elevations

6. …good forage for animal grazing systems;

7. …high production, nutritional quality, and palatability

8. For use in plantation and orchard cropping systems including macadamia and coffee, in vineyards, and as a living mulch in vegetable cropping systems.”

In doing research for this article I came across a blog: insteading.com they use white clover as a living mulch, planting it in the garden to keep down weeds; eventually, it becomes mulch, retains moisture, attracts pollinators, and improves the soil. When I visited Michael Judd’s property, (author of Edible Landscapes), I saw his use of crops like mint growing in many places. He explained to us that he was not worried about keeping them harnessed. He cut them down periodically during the growing season and they became mulch there and then. It seems Insteading supports the same practices.

Last but not least, white clovers attract pollinators. White clover honey is one of the most popular honey here in the US, light in color and milder in taste.

Recipes:

Teas are easy: gather flowers, leaves at peak growing times, dry, store in glass jars. These plant parts can be combined with other herbs for tea making.  A few white clover blossoms along with red clovers can be added to ice teas too creating pleasing summertime drinks.

White clover flowers dried, then ground into flour can be added to bread recipes. Southern forager shares a bread recipe made from dehydrated and dried, ground white clover blossom flour. I have found forager sites have great uses and recipes for meadow plants.

I hope you look at white clovers in lawns, gardens, and paths a bit differently. This little plant often mowed and ignored provides a host of uses. Do you have a favorite recipe? Please share…I’d like that.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Blog: Restoring Our Relationship with Microbes for Optimal Health

There’s a buzz going around in soil science and health about our “microbiome”. Both are equally important for different reasons yet for the same result. Healthy soil teeming with microbes and bacteria, supporting a fungal network thus creating a vital microbiome grows nutritious foods. Nutritious foods, freshly picked or organically grown or purchased retains a bit of the soil biome and contributes to keeping our gut in better shape microbe wise. Researchers like the presenter above are connecting the dots about how our relationship to soil, microbes, and health are interconnected. It’s like another version of the web. And, It’s a win-win for us and the planet.

My podcast guest this week, Kimberly Kresevic, founder of InSoil Health seeks to do just that. She can show farmers in real time the health status of their soil. Where there are deficiencies, she can advise farmers on the correct amendments to positively build soil health, all of which grows healthier foods. We take care of the soil and the soil takes care of us. A relationship we have forgotten about. We may not have had the science to understand our relationship in the past but now we do. And, It’s a bit scary when we look at the scope of the problems facing us today. And, It’s fascinating, too and what folks are doing one talk, one garden, one business at a time.

Yes, we can make a difference.

  • Grow your own food.
  • If you can’t, join in a community garden venture.
  • If you can’t, buy from a CSA.
  • If you can’t, buy organic and from local organic farmers.
  • Remember: every purchase is a vote.

I hope you enjoyed the TED Talk above. He defines microbiome, shows colorful slides so we can envision how this microscopic system works within us. And, the best news is that with a few lifestyle changes, we can experience a more positive health response, enabling us to live healthy lives while improving our partnership with the earth.

Did you enjoy his review? Let us know what you can do to make a positive change in your life today. Thanks.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Kimberly Kresevic Returns

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Description: Kim Kresevic, founder of InSoil Health returns this week to talk about the link between soil health and our gut health. We need to appreciate healthy soils once again; living, biologically diverse nutrient-rich soil. Why? The healthier the soil, the more nutritious food is produced and that translates into healthier food for us to consume which means more robust, vibrant health. Soil science on this level is relatively new, yet so vital to agriculture whether backyard farming or mega-farming. Microbes offer so much to soil integrity and microbes offer so much in our biology.
Join Kimberly and me for another engaging discussion about soil and gut health.

About My Guest: Kimberley Kresevic is President and Founder of InSoil Health, a data analytics and educational consultancy based out of Northeast Ohio. With diverse experience in both healthcare and biological cultivation, Kim brings a unique systems-based approach to current food production challenges.  Driven by the principle that nutrition is the foundation of human health and vitality, Kim works with growers in all walks of life and at all scales to improve food quality using natural biological techniques. By focusing on soil population data, systems improvement, and the human health value proposition, Kim helps growers invigorate the Soil Foodweb, reduce input costs, and eliminate the toxic environmental effects of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Transcript: #56 Kim Kresevic #2 

Blog: The Dirt on Relationship

 

 

 

“To forget how to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” M. Gandhi

It seems like nothing much is happening to the natural world around us. Winter has a couple of weeks yet to linger around. Though hostas peek through the snow, spring bulbs sprout a few leaves and tease us by popping up a little early, it’s still winter. This time and place on the wheel are traditionally thought to be a quieter time, a time for making garden plans, checking seed supplies, a time for dreaming of the blossoms to come. A tension builds though, before spring’s explosions of flower and beauty. Can you feel it? Though we have snow on the ground here in the NE, birds are more active, even tree buds are more obvious.

My podcast guest this week, Dan Blanchard, Author, Teacher, Coach is passionate about growing positive relationships. He shared a couple of stories about how his honesty, though not popular in the moment, touched a student. Dan reaped the rewards years later.

Working with our soil is about relationship too. Soon we will be digging in this dirt, itchy to plant seeds. What is your relationship to dirt? Sounds silly but to farmers and gardeners, the soil is the source of fertility on this planet. Do you take the soil for granted? What does soil mean to you? Have you taken a walk lately, felt the cold bite your cheeks, felt the sun getting warmer, appreciated the clear blue skies? What about putting your awareness to the ground, where so much is taking place. Tension is building. It has to. It takes tremendous energy for a seed to break out of its shell and begin its journey of growth and potential. Like the teenagers that Dan works with, we have to wait and watch. Under the right conditions, we blossom and so does the earth.

Getting back to our gardens: I highly recommend a soil sample of your garden beds before you plant. Contact your local agricultural extension office to obtain a kit and easy directions. The fees are usually nominal and the results worth it. Or use a lab like Logan Labs in Ohio for a more comprehensive analysis which I highly recommend. It cost a little more but if micro and macronutrients are not in proper ratios you could be wasting your time and money adding amendments that will not be able to be utilized. Also, take a separate sample for different areas. For example, collect one soil sample from your vegetable area, a separate sample for the ornamentals, And again, take a separate sample for flowers or for blueberries. Different types of plants have different needs.

Lastly, if or when you can, take time to smell the soil, feel it….be grateful. It is our lifeblood. We have not been good stewards either. Remember “humus” comes from the same root as “humble”. So being grateful begins to foster a more meaningful relationship, a more respectful one with the dirt beneath our feet. If it works for us then it works for all that we seek to grow. Remember all comments are appreciated. Judith

Blog: Let’s Talk Tomatoes

 

 

 

What’s your favorite Italian dish? Eggplant parmesan is one of my favorites, especially with a flavorful tomato sauce. It’s funny though that we think of Italian cuisine with tomatoes when they are thought to originate in the Americas. Settlers, not sure who brought this flavorful plant back to Europe in the 16th century. There are some plants still in the wild of Peru and Ecuador. Thomas Jefferson grew them but it took till the 1800s for tomatoes to find a place back here in the Americas. Today we grow hundreds of thousands of acres of tomatoes. Most of our tomatoes are cultivated and often have trouble resisting pests and diseases.

Tomato is a member of the nightshade family, which may be why early conquerors in central and south America thought it was poisonous as many nightshade plants are poisonous. My podcast guest this week, Craig Floyd, manager at Coogan Farm in Mystic Ct., devoted his interview to growing healthy, vibrant tomato plants with high yield. How? Here’s a recap of his fabulous tips.

    1. Soil: A soil test is a must: tomatoes need four minerals in particular: Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, and Nitrogen. We recommend Logan Labs in Ohio who offer a more comprehensive analysis.
    2. Seed: Choose heirloom or organic seeds. Add an innoculant to your seed bag which can help germination time.
    3. When planting choose the biggest, fattest seed from the lot.
    4. Don’t plant too early. Do transplant when seedlings are 4″ high. Any taller they may not fulfill their potential.
    5. Plant 60″ apart. Place four basil plants around them or another companion plant like carrots.
    6. Drench seedlings with compost tea before transplanting. Then, water every day.
    7. Microbiology is so important. Add mulch material around plants every week. They need a good dose of worm castings, seaweed. Seaweed unlocks nutrients and keeps some bugs away.
    8. Craig keeps three main leaders and removes suckers.

What is the tomato’s potential: try 22′ long yielding 300 lbs of fruit. That’s a wow in my book. When I visited Craig in his Giving Garden recently, he showed us his hoop house with poles high up to capture the growing vines. Can’t wait to visit in the spring and summer and watch their progress from seedling to fruit producing. The best part is that the food banks in New London reap the benefits. Healthy sustainable food is given to feed the food insecure: inspiring and motivating, I highly recommend you make the Coogan Farm and nearby nature trails a place to visit this summer.

If you go, share a pic, tell us about your experience. We’d love to hear from you.

Please share. Thanks. Enjoy. Judith

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