Blog: All ABout Worms

 

 

As a child, I didn’t like crawly critters like worms. It took me a while to get comfortable picking one up. Whether in garden beds, composers, sighting a worm hopefully means the soil is being aerated, decomposition is going on and in general, there’s a sigh of “it’s a good thing.” Kids are fascinated too. Worms are easy to hold and handle and make for a successful hands-on show and tell. Gardeners like to look for worms too. It took me a while to get used to them. But as a gardener, I now know how invaluable they are to maintaining healthy soil.

Vermiculture is the official name for using red wiggler worms to decompose waste materials. Other types of worms help out too. What I found particularly helpful is that you can keep red wigglers in the house for table scraps. Their decomposed poop, known as worm castings, are especially good to add back into the soil.

“Because the earthworms grind and uniformly mix minerals in simple forms, plants need only minimal effort to obtain them. (Wikipedia)

Nightcrawlers and red wigglers are frequently mentioned in vermiculture. But, we now have an “invasive” species of worm. What’s the difference?
My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, gave us an introduction to worms as composters and how we can use them in our homes to decompose vegetable matter. Pretty interesting right? She tells us how to have them in our home which works well in the winter. Worm castings can be made and added to our garden beds even in winter.

A nightcrawler/dew worm eats soil. A Red Wiggler, Eisenia fetida, eats decomposing matter like rotten fruit, vegetables, manure. They are reddish in color.

Jumping worms, however, Amynthas spp., are a different story. They devour forest floors rapidly and then flood the floor with nutrients. Our forests use matter that decomposes more slowly so we don’t know the long term implications yet. And the decomposing matter is larger, more grainy like coffee grounds which alters soil composition, especially for understory plants. The photo below, from Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources site, gives a good visual of the damage they can cause. these worms have a white ring around them and slither like snakes and can move quite quickly.

Jumping worms effect on woods
What can you do?  Know your worms. If you should find any jumping worms inform your state’s agricultural department. Wisconsin has a ban on them. Sadly we are seeing them in our forests here in the NE. Spring is here. It will be good to get outdoors. As you garden be vigilant.  Many invasive species are harming our landscapes.Together, one yard at a time, we can make a difference. Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Nigel Palmer


Description: Healthy soils support healthy plants, create nutrient-dense foods, help create better health. It all begins with the soil. My guest this week, Nigel Palmer, is a soil consultant and teaches sustainable and regenerative soil practices with The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition, TIOSN, here in North CT. What’s good for soil biology, the “digestive system” of soil, is actually important for us. Join us for an informative discussion on growing nutritious foods from the ground up.

About My Guest: Nigel Palmer is a Bionutrient Food and Soil Consultant practicing sustainable, regenerative mineralization programs. He develops plant and soil improvement products by fermenting local plants, extracting minerals, and capturing then cultivating indigenous microorganisms. He uses the refractive index of plant saps and crops as a way of monitoring long and short-term plant health trends and the efficacy of the products developed.

Nigel is the Outside Consultant for The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition or TIOSN. He teaches sustainable regenerative gardening techniques, the keeping of bees, and discusses monthly, the night sky and many subtle nuances of the world out of doors.

Transcript: Nigel Palmer 

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 

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