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Regenerative Soil Microscopy: the Book, Course, & Database

Matt Powers
The Permaculture Student

{2022 Superfood Garden Summit Presenter}

Matt Powers teaches permaculture and regenerative gardening and farming to families, youth, schools, and adults all over the world through his online courses, videos, and books. Matt provides daily inspirational and regenerative content online and is one of the most-followed permaculture teachers online.

How do we truly tell good compost from bad compost? Or better from best? BECAUSE in life, we are always after what is BEST.

What about you?

  • Do you want to KNOW what’s in your soil or compost before you apply it?
  • Do you want to be able to test your soil, compost, mushrooms, roots, and more at home?
  • Would you like to see other people’s test results in comparison to your own? What about in comparison to other bioregions and climate analogs?

Matt Powers has a new book, course, and database project that is absolutely WILD – it’s going to change soil science as we know it!

By having a way for everyone to compare their soils, the best soil regeneration and management practices will be revealed transparently, publicly, and powerfully!!

This is a game-changer – if you ever wanted to know how your soil or compost compares to others in your bioregion or in the world, this is how we are going to do it. Matt’s cracked the code: he’s developed a holistic approach to soil science with Regenerative Soil first and now with Regenerative Soil Microscopy & the new R-Soil Database, there’s a way to unlock the secrets of the soil for all the see for the first time EVER.

This is such an incredibly important project: it will change all farming, horticulture, ranching, gardening, and food as it rolls forward and shows the pathways to the highest nutrient density. Folks will be able to compare across 100+ points of distinction like organic matter %, BRIX of the plant sap, pH, all macro & micronutrients, paramagnetism, REDOX, CEC, Salinity, Compaction, Plant Sap Analysis, and so much more – compare your own samples over time or against the bioregion, world, or across specific variables like pH… the possibilities for deeper insight are limitless!!

This opens the door to a new way of testing, researching, discovering, sharing, learning, and growing.

THANK YOU MATT!!

Please show your appreciation by supporting Matt’s Kickstarter campaign in any way that you can – please share it with your people: this is for the folks that LOVE composting and soil & for those serious about growing, so please share it with everyone you can so we can find those folks to participate in this project. It’s going to help everyone as it develops and grows!

Check out what Matt is offering in his 7th Kickstarter!!
(Already 105% funded!!)

Did you check out Matt’s Video and New Book? Share with us your take-a-ways from his teaching.

Are Weeds Really ‘Bad’?

Rob Herring
Need to Grow

Rob’s short film aired in the 2022 Superfood Garden Summit

The film is called “We Decided to Become Farmers.”

Rob Herring is an environmental filmmaker and musical activist. He directed/produced/wrote The Need To GROW, winner of multiple Best Documentary awards and seen in 175 countries around the world. Rob worked on the critically acclaimed GMO OMG, and is a Producer on the follow up to the world famous Zeitgeist Trilogy.

As a musician, Rob writes songs for health and eco activism, and headlined the Rock For Nature concert in Berlin for 25,000 people. He is also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and is the co-founder of Integrative Pediatrics.

By: Rob Herring, The NEED to Grow Film

Weeding in your garden?

Maybe you shouldn’t.

Contrary to our decades-long battle against weeds, such as in lawns and in gardens (and especially where I live in America)…

…most weeds are around for a (natural) reason.

No, I’m not saying you should let weeds crowd out and choke your plants! (That’s not good, either).

As with many topics, we want to approach it with nuance as best we can, and recognize that if we allow some weeds to dwell near garden beds or on the lawn, they might provide benefits that get easily overlooked (beyond the obvious beneficial pollinators).

You may be doing a double take right now. How could weeds possibly be beneficial?

Especially plants like dandelion and even (gulp) thistle?

If you’ve got a green thumb, a lawn care passion, a landscaping hobby, or if you only garden from time to time, here are the top benefits of weeds that you need to know…

…so you can spend more time doing the more enjoyable stuff, while letting the wild green things do their beneficial stuff.

Erosion Control

Good advice for gardeners: why kill weeds in your garden, only to leave the soil open and barren?

While gardeners (and farmers, too) can get stuck on having neat, clean, and bare soil come winter— or when their plots are not in use…

…this can cause erosion during hard rains and floods, which makes you lose topsoil, soil life, and amazing nutrients for your plants next year!

Instead of cleaning up, let some of the low-lying weeds hold the soil in place. The root systems are doing Nature’s work underground.

Clumpy weeds like chickweed and ground ivy can be ideal to keep around for this.

Nutrient Availability 

Soil compaction is the worst enemy of gardeners and farmers.

That means soil is so pressured and hardened that water and roots have a tough time working their way through.

While sprouting weeds around your young plants can be terrible in some ways, they can be amazing allies against soil compaction on the other hand!

Next time you’re eyeing some weeds and thinking it’s their time to go…

…think twice about if your soil is nutrient deficient, compact, or if there are hard pan issues.

Weeds with very long taproots are amazing at paving the way for next year’s plants, and these include dandelion, sow thistle, and even cockleburs (a.k.a. burdock).

Helpful Cover (and doing the weeding for you!)

Yep: you heard me right— some plants can help you cut down on weeding!

Especially if you struggle with grasses (the bane of gardeners)….

…there are some plants you should keep around, which can help fight and outcompete these peskiest of weeds such as on garden borders, paths, and right in your lawn (if you’re wishing for a more biodiverse lawn, that is).

These weeds accomplish this by having wide, thick leaves that overshadow grasses and lateral roots that spread quickly, easily choke out grasses (both horizontally and vertically) if you encourage them to stick around.

Some great examples are (again) dandelion, red (or white) clover, violets, and purslane (which is also delicious by the way!)

Oh, and of course, that’s another perk too…

….many “weeds” are edible, too (but be careful and make sure you know what you’re considering ingesting, or speak with a qualified herbalist or native plant expert in your region before you go randomly experimenting).

Are Weeds Really ‘Bad’?

We should always remember that the concept of a “weed” is a human idea…

A belief that one plant is more desirable than another, can sometimes come from a short-sighted approach, focused solely on productivity specifically for human consumption or extraction.

Nature thrives from biodiversity and while some plants can be detrimental if not kept in check, it may be helpful to consider the possibility that the certain plants may be serving more important roles in the ecosystem than our human minds can even comprehend.

If they arrived on site, the system may have “called them in”.

There may be a function they are playing, or a ‘role’ they have in the succession of the ecosystem.

Humility is key. We must not pretend we understand the complexity to Nature’s system. We must work with Nature and listen to her as well.

COMMENT!

We’d love to hear from the community:

→ How have you found weeds to sometimes be beneficial?

Are there certain plants described as weeds that have helped your garden, farm, or ecosystem at large?

→ Are there certain weeds you’ve used for their nutritional or healing potential?

The #1 Key to Starting Healthy Seedlings

Marjory Wildcraft
The GROW Network

Marjory is a 2022 Superfood Garden Summit Presenter.

“How to have FREE breakfast for life!”

Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens.

Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.

By: Marjory Wildcraft, The GROW Network

In my experience, the vast majority of problems people have when trying to grow plants from seed stem from insufficient light. A strong, reliable light source is not a luxury when you’re starting healthy seedlings—it’s an absolute must. You can compromise on many other aspects of gardening, but don’t cheat your green babies on the one thing they need most.

If you have a greenhouse, choose the brightest spot for your new seedlings. If you’ve been setting your seed trays on a windowsill, re-evaluate that choice. Remember: weak light = weak seedlings.

If you want husky, healthy seedlings, don’t gamble on the fickle winter sun filtered through a window.

Control the light, and you control the outcome!

Choosing the Right Grow Lights

Setting up a grow light today is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t take up much room. Bulky shop lights and fiendishly hot tungsten bulbs are fading into history.

Existing Shelf Space

If you have some empty space on a bookshelf or an empty shelf in a kitchen cabinet, you can easily install a couple of tiny T-5 light fixtures. There are also several LED offerings on the market. LED grow lights are powerful and super-efficient, and they generate very little heat.

Simply attach a light or two to the bottom of one shelf to light the shelf underneath it where your tray will sit.

If the shelf is adjustable, you are all set. If not, the tray can be elevated when the seedlings are started, to bring the surface of the soil within two or three inches of the light. That’s right! The light will be very close to the seeds.

Tabletop Light Stands

If you have room to start seeds on a countertop or a table, there are several tabletop light stands that are designed for the space. The typical design is a simple metal stand that holds the light, suspended by an adjustable string or chain.

Tabletop lights are small and easy to use, and they are available in a range of sizes.

Grow Light Stands

The next size up is the shelf model. These resemble a regular set of utility shelves, with a grow light suspended from the bottom of every shelf. These lights offer enough space and power to grow starts for the whole neighborhood!

These shelf units aren’t cheap, but they are very useful. In addition to starting seeds, they can be used to overwinter plants indoors, and even to grow summer veggies and herbs all winter long.

Strong Light = Strong Seedlings

If the seedlings you’ve grown in the past haven’t been the strong, stout, deep-green variety every gardener hopes for, it’s likely that they haven’t gotten enough light as they’ve grown.

Fix that one thing, and you’re much more likely to say “goodbye” to weak, leggy, pale seedlings—and hello to starts that grow into strong, healthy plants!

Share your seed starting success stories with us!

Light Deprivation for Weed Control

Tasha Greer
Simple, Epicurean Homestead Living

Tasha is a 2022 Superfood Garden Summit presenter.

Weeds are Superfoods Too (for you & your garden!)

Tasha Greer is an Epicurean homesteader and writer focused on simple, sustainable living. She’s the author of Weed-Free Gardening and Grow Your Own Spices. She gardens in Surry County, North Carolina on about 1.5 acres and grows a large variety of annual and perennial edible, medicinal, and ecosystem support plants.

Additionally, she has a large greenhouse for year-round gardening and exotic edibles. Tasha also keeps ducks, dairy goats, chickens, a pet turkey, worms, and (occasionally) pigs to help with landscaping projects and manage soil fertility. She also teaches classes related to growing food, edible landscaping, and organic

Light deprivation is great low-to-no cost way to control some weeds in your garden. It’s done by covering an area with black plastic sheeting, landscape fabric, scrap sheet metal, a tarp, old carpet, or other kinds of light barriers for a few months. Alternatively, you can use carbon rich materials like paper and cardboard held in place with heavy objects or covered with mulch.

The idea is that if the weeds underneath the cover can’t access sunlight, they can’t photosynthesize. If they can’t photosynthesize, they can’t do the necessary maintenance to keep their roots, stems, and leaves in good working order. Over time, overall plant health will start to decline. In that weakened state, insects and soil microlife will begin to nibble on those weeds until they eventually die.

It’s a little gruesome to imagine in detail. But the method is really effective on fast-growing weeds with fibrous root systems or rot prone crowns. Unfortunately, there are also many weeds that can wait out short-term light sieges.

Light Seige Resistant Weeds

Here are a few examples of weeds that can’t be easily killed with light deprivation.

• Herbaceous perennial weeds with the capacity to go dormant (e.g., cold hardy or drought hardy plants) can use their dormancy aptitudes to survive without light for more than 6 months.

•  Weeds with deep storage roots or tubers can survive a light siege by continuing to do critical maintenance using those nutrients stored in their underground plant parts for years.

• Weeds that spread quickly by rhizomes can extend beyond light blocking barriers and continue to feed the root systems underneath the light blocking barrier indefinitely.

For these light-seige adapted survival weeds, targeted digging or repeat mowing to weaken root systems, followed by long-term light deprivation are necessary.

Weed Seed Light Blocking

Light deprivation is also used to prevent certain weed seeds from germinating. This is normally done by applying a few sheets of paper followed by several inches of compost, garden soil, or other mulches to bury weed seeds.

This method is really effective against seeds that require light or that germinate only at shallow planting depths. It won’t prevent deep-germinating seeds from starting. However, by increasing the soil depth they have to grow up through, those weeds will be weaker when they emerge. Then, you can cover them with a big rock or repeat mow them down to finish the job.

Solarization vs. Light Deprivation

Just one cautionary note: Be careful not to confuse light deprivation with solarization.

Solarization is an in-ground method of pasteurizing your soil used only to treat severe cases of fungal pathogens. It’s done over a long period of time, including the warmest months of the year, using tightly applied clear or black plastic that scorches the soil. Solarizing is detrimental to soil life and often causes enormous amounts of weeds within a few months of removing the plastic sheeting.

Light deprivation, by contrast, should not interrupt the airflow to soil or cause the soil to heat up. The soil below should also be kept moist so it doesn’t overheat in dry hot weather.

Light deprivation kills plants while beneficial insects and microlife in the soil remain unharmed. In some cases, light deprivation even increases soil life populations as they feast on the dying plants.

Weed-Free Gardening

For more weed-free tips and tidbits, check back weekly or sign up for email notifications of new posts. Also, if you want lots more Weed-Free Gardening information at your fingertips, consider buying a copy of my book.

Please share any tips you have for successful organic weed control.

From Garden to Soothing Oil: How To Make Lavender Oil in Your Kitchen

With the increasing change and unrest in the world, resilience is a big topic and easy to use self-care tools are required for all of us to stay the course and take care of ourselves and our communities. We are only as strong as our weakest link. So many people are stepping up their self-care and herbal medicine making right now. Knowing how to rejuvenate and restore is big medicine for these times.

Not only are herbal oils themselves an antidote for what we are experiencing, there are so many little-known techniques for using the oils to help you ground, center and find the alignment of what is true for you now. We are partnering with our friend Kami McBride to help bring this herbal knowledge more into awareness so more people can benefit from such simple and inexpensive herbal self-help techniques.

Kami is doing a free workshop on herbal infused oils. She has 34 years of experience perfecting the art of making herbal oils, if you are at all interested in refining the quality of your herbal oils, her teachings on herbal oils are the most comprehensive you will find anywhere.

Lavendar Oil Kami

It’s amazing at how many long-time oil makers are talking about how they didn’t even know that this kind of upgrade was available for their herbal oils.

Also, if you are just starting out with your herbal oil making, this workshop will be invaluable. Her free workshop is only up for a short while, so make sure to take a few minutes now and gather up the nuggets you won’t find anywhere else.

Power Up Your Harvest by Adding Flowers to Your Garden

If you could add something to your garden that would naturally deter pests, entice pollinators, increase soil fertility, and add beauty to your garden…you’d want that, right?

What if we told you that thing would also increase your joy both in your garden and your home?

That it wouldn’t require much additional space, planning, time, or money?

That it could immediately shift your mood to a feeling of wonder and wellbeing?

FLOWERS are the most underestimated element to creating a thriving, diverse garden.

Sunflower Field

When many people are just getting started gardening, they often overlook flowers because they’re so focused on growing food. However, experienced gardeners know that growing flowers alongside your vegetables and herbs can have a BIG impact on the productivity, sustainability, and beauty of your garden.

In this video, Stacey walks you through all of the wonderful benefits you can find when you include flowers in your garden:

🌻 Increase your vegetable production by inviting pollinators into your space!
🌼 Grow your own fertilizer and compost.
🌻 Have medicine on demand growing right in your garden.
🌼 Increase the biodiversity of your space to deter pests and entice beneficial insects.
🌻 Add beauty to your garden with pops of color, and bring beauty inside with
bouquets!
🌼 Stop and smell the flowers: boost your mood with natural flower fragrances.
🌻 Embrace the unknown by bringing home new flowers that call out to you.

Mother nature is all about making connections! The productivity of your vegetable plants and the nutrient density of your food depend on the interactions between soil, water, insects, and other plants in your garden. Understanding how nature beings interact in your garden can help you harness the power of biodiversity so you can find more joy in your garden with less work.

But what flowers should you add?

The answer is…yes!

The flowers you add are all up to YOU: your goals, your space, your idea of beauty! A little bit of research and intuition are all you need. Grab that gorgeous flower that calls to you at a local nursery. Join a foraging group and learn about native flower species in your area. Incorporate medicinal flowers like echinacea and calendula for your foray into herbal medicine.

To help get you started, this video includes five important considerations when you’re choosing which flowers to grow:

🌻 What kind of ecosystem are you nurturing?
🌼 How much space do you have, and how can you use it best?
🌻 Do you want to grow perennials or annuals?
🌼 What flowers spark JOY and fill you with excitement and wonder?
🌻 Pick the right plant for the yields you want!

The video also includes the #1 mistake to avoid so you can get all the blooms without any bummers or blunders!

>>> Download the Adding Flowers to Your Garden Cheat Sheet now

Whether you’re looking for more abundance, health, beauty, connection, or joy in your garden, there’s a flower for that! That’s why Stacey calls flowers “food for your soul.”

Enjoy your blossoming bounty!