Lead Update

...112 parts per million. Note that “plant available” is different than the total amount of lead in the soil. The total amount would be about ten times higher or 1,120 ppm. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm. The risk of lead poisoning through the food chain increases as the soil lead level r...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...rror comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic, is very compacted. Very few plants do well with compacted soil, including natives. The best way to break up compacted soil is with a broadfork, a spendy item. We use a garden fork instead. 3. Soil fertility...

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Adventures in Gardening Series: Wrap up on the Hippie Heart: Growing lentils and flax

...ng a legume, lentils help draw nitrogen into their soil via the roots. If you want to boost the nitrogen in your soil, you can plant legumes, then cut them down when they flower, leaving the roots with their nitrogen nodules in the soil for the next crop to feed upon. (If you let them grow beans, they consume much of that stored nitrogen). This process is called cover cropping, and though it sounds like something only a farmer would do, you can d...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

...or around LA, we encourage you to take this unique class that we’re hosting in the Silver Lake area. While it’s pretty easy to get basic information on starting a worm bin, it’s rare to be able to dig deeper, especially with a teacher as knowledgeable as Nancy Klehm. GET YOUR LOOP ON! A workshop on extreme vermicomposting for the city dweller. October 23, 2011 9am – 1pm $45 includes foraged snacks and tea $25 deposit requ...

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SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

One of the highlights of the California Master Gardener Conference I just spoke at was a lecture by Toby O’Geen, Ph.D., Assistant Soil Resource Specialist at UC Extension. O’Geen mentioned an amazing online soil resource called SoilWeb, avaliable at http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/drupal/node/902. SoilWeb overlays detailed soil information on Google Maps and Google Earth. There’s even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use...

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What We’re Going To Do About That Lead

...But, for the sake of an argument, let’s say the first alarming test is true, what are we going to do about it? These are the options: Radical remediation: Remove all the soil in the yard and replace with new soil. Cover the contaminated soil so that it doesn’t give off dust, and so people can’t come in direct contact with it, e.g. lay sod, cover the yard with concrete or decking, or lay down a thick layer of mulch. Grow ornam...

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Weeds into Fertilizer

...the water, they release the nutrients. Many of these elements can be difficult for other plants to access in the soil. Nettles just happen to be very good at taking up nutrients from relatively poor soil. The point here is let your weeds rot in water and you get a nice fertilizer. This is better than water into wine as far as I’m concerned. Which reminds me that I want to try making dandelion wine this spring…. So many of the plants...

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Stirred, Not Shaken

...e horns–that they represented a higher world unified with the earth by being buried and containing manure. It’s a symbol that recalls the ouroboros, the snake chasing it’s own tail, representing the cycles of nature, combined with the “as above, so below” gesture the magician in the tarot deck is making below. All this makes more sense if you compost! Now I’m a big fan of the scientific method (yea soil tests!)...

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

...Keeps roots from getting waterlogged in a wet climate. Cons Requires materials to construct. Might need to buy soil–gardening in the ground is free. Roots dry out quicker in a hot climate. Lack of mineral content in bagged soils. Use of peat moss in bagged products. Unable to truly embrace the “no dig” philosophy: despite best efforts to the contrary, it seems the soil needs to be swapped out every few years. It’s contai...

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The Connection Between Human Health and Soil Health

...and allergies later in life. Research that is taking an Integrated Pest Management approach to cancer, treating it as a symptom of a lack of internal biodiversity. Studies that have shown the higher nutritional value of eggs from chickens raised on pasture. It seems obvious that there’s a connection between the health of a farm and our own health. Biodiverse soils produce healthier, more nutritious food. And way too much of the food we ea...

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