I like it when you talk dirt

Hey ‘yall!

So internet here has been a bit finicky, making it tricky to get on for anything longer than a quick Facebook shout out, or the occasional email check in (P.S. is there anyone else out there who consistently adds an extra “s” to “occasional”? this seems to be an ongoing thing for me. Freudian conjectures welcome). Wanted to send a quick note to say: this permaculture design course has been really fantastic. I can’t wait to get out there and start designing my own interrelated, bountiful garden, full of food, fun, grace and intention.

More beauty at Lost Valley

One big lesson from the past few days: its good to start at the beginning (funny how that works, huh?). In the case of growing things, this means really getting back to the earth and the soil. Without healthy soil, it’s next to impossible to grow healthy plants – or at the very least, we’re fighting against ourselves to do so.

So what is healthy soil, and how do you make it? As has become the permaculture mantra, “it depends” on where you are, what the climate’s like, and what the existing conditions are, but a basic recipe for super soil is as follows:

  • 10 to 30 dollops of crunchy, carbonaceous-ness (i.e. dry, carbon heavy things, like wood chips, dried leaves, paper, straw)
  • 1 dollop of moist nitrogenous green greatness (i.e. generally wet, nitrogen heavy things, like composted food scraps, grass clippings, manures)
  • Heaps of love, sun and water
  • The great thing is, as Toby Hemenway puts it: soil is pretty forgiving. The idea is to create a decent balance between carbon and nitrogen, and to create an environment where a huge diversity of micro-organisms can thrive. The more worms, bugs, bacteria, fungi you have squishing around together, the more nutrients can effectively be distributed to your plants, meaning more nutritious (read: tasty!) helpings on your plate.

    There are a ton of great resources to learn more about composting, sheet mulching, trench mulching and soil building (I recommend typing any of those terms into Google to start, or picking up a copy of Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and reading his great chapter on sheet mulch lasagna). The point is, you don’t have to be a pro, and you can learn as you go. As long as you have a space to lay it down, or someone around who can use it, there’s no reason we can’t all start composting/building soil right now, and closing a huge portion of our waste loop.

    Than in field

    There’s so much more to talk about, from our design projects, to water systems, to animal husbandry, to incredible discussions on purpose, food, and serendipity. If any of these things interest you, give us a shout! For now, I’m off to see if Edmond Dantes escapes imprisonment and can find the lost treasure of Abbe Faria on the island of Monte Cristo (please – no spoilers!).

    With love,
    David

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