Mar 24, 2012

A Recipe for a Hugelkultur Raised Bed Permaculture Research Institute

by Sunny Soleil March 23, 2012

I’ve been wanting to do a hugelkultur bed ever since I saw an article about a village store garden where people could walk around these really tall raised beds picking their veggies without bending.

Hugelkultur is a Central European-style raised bed which uses rotting wood as its foundation. Toby Hemenway mentions it in Gaia’s Garden, offering the hot tip that he can start potatoes a month early in this kind of bed. The hugelkultur raised bed can be built in many different ways, towering as high as you can reach or in a deep trench so that the planting surface is more or less level with the ground.

The bed is a layered affair with rotting wood at the base. On top of that goes a layer of twigs, which serve as air pockets and then you can get creative with straw, green manure, upturned sod, compost and your favourite earth-feeding solutions, topping it off with about an inch of good soil. Unlike regular raised beds, you don’t have to fork out for piles of soil. The soil builds itself in the pile as the wood rots.

You can build these beds up to over two metres, if you are able, and they’ll slowly sink down. The higher the bed the easier it is to pick the produce. I decided to make ours about 1.3 metres high, aware that it will sink a little and also knowing that I can build it up even higher after the harvest and just before fall planting.

Here’s a step by step guide to how I did it. Gardening is a bit like cooking in that as long as you understand the basics, you can get creative with your own ingredients.

The trench: I dug a very shallow trench about 15cms deep and about 1.5 metres long by 1 metre wide. If you think about it, you can make the bed as long as you want, curve it round and, as Hemenway suggests, use it to create swales.

Layer 1 – Rotting Wood: I used maple and some apple wood as that was what was laying around. It makes sense not to use wood like locust or cedar which take eons to rot. We also shoved in some really rotting stuff from the forest.

The more rotten the wood the quicker the bed will compost down.

Layer 2 – Twigs: I broke these up and layered them to create an open weave framework. This allows air to circulate and speeds up the rotting process as well as providing a platform on which to pile the upturned sod.

Layer 2 – Favorite ingredients: I wanted to enrich the bed so I added a few extra ingredients. I threw in some wood ash from the wood stove for extra potassium. It also had bits of biochar in it which I understand is pretty good for soil.

Layer 3 – Upturned Sod: We don’t have lots of grass sod so I dug up ‘weeds’ and big clumps of grassy stuff as a substitute. Each clump I dug up revealed several juicy worms as a bonus. As I was digging out the sod I thought this could be the basis for a small pond at the bottom of our garden. As well as sod you can use straw, grass clippings, green manure and leaves.

Layer 4 – More ingredients: On top of this I sprinkled some diluted pee to add a bit of nitrogen, with crushed egg shells for calcium and some lime to help counteract the acidity of our Georgia red clay sod. While I was at it I thought I’d throw in some mycorrhizae that I had lying around. Then I stuffed the gaps with some nicely composted dark wet maple leaves which we have in abundance.

Layer 5 – Composted Cow manure: We have an ample supply of this from our neighbor’s cow barn. It’s mostly rich and powdery so I layered that on top of the sod — mixed in with the red clay I’m hoping it will compensate for the fact we don’t have any great soil.

The Border: I decided to border the bed to support the sod mixture and used some hardwood maple and dogwood that we’d cut for firewood as well as one rotting log that was the exact length of one of the sides.

Finishing Touches: I was so pleased with the finished product I wanted to stick in a pole and flag announcing my new ‘arrival’. However Biscuit, my jackhuahua doggie decided to do the honors followed shortly by the chickens.

Two weeks after writing this my beets are already sprouting in the bed. Next crop is some organic purple potatoes!

According to Hemenway, squash and cucumbers love these tall raised beds and I can see a beautiful permaculture guild forming including a fruit tree of some kind. Not only is it fun to do and relatively easy but I love the idea that by using what’s laying around I am building great soil quickly. I can keep adding to the height and it cost me virtually nothing.

A Small-scale, Traditional, Sustainable Way to Fish Permaculture Research Institute

Fish — by Claudette Fleming March 24, 2012
Indigenous peoples have employed various sustainable ways of obtaining food. Using a fish trap is just one of them.
by Claudette Fleming

The Kingfisher and indigenous people methods of fishing have one commonality — they are sustainable. No fish is wasted and there is always fish for tomorrow.

Traditional lowland indigenous peoples of South America most often fish daily and tend to fish only for the family and maybe other vulnerable members of the community, e.g. the elderly. Sometimes fish is preserved for future use, but fresh fish is always preferred. An advantage of daily fishing is that the catch is at its freshest. One important sustainable way to fish is to use a cell-type fish trap.

Fish Traps

Fish Traps have been used for many, many moons now and are still used today.

A trap is usually set in nearby water within walking or paddling distance from the home and is normally checked for fish on a daily basis.

Depending on the area, traps can be of different designs. One type of trap used in shallow water is made of cane and the lure to the trap is termite or wood-ants. Where there is a rise and fall of the tide, a water pen made of palm, with roasted corn as the lure can be used.

A flooded plain trap in use

This trap is set in shallow water and is woven like a basket, often with openings big enough for small fish to escape. The bait which is the live termite nest is placed in the basket. A weight is also put in to prevent the trap from floating away and to keep the opening below the water. The mouth of the trap is wide, so fish can swim in. A thick covering of water weeds is placed on top so as to disguise the trap and to encourage fish to enter.

The trap only shuts in fish of a certain size
Fish is always alive
Smaller, growing fish can escape
Fish can swim out of the trap or remain in shallow water and
will not die if not taken out.
Bait is organic and comes from the surroundings
The trap is biodegradable
No economic cost
Time that might be spent line fishing can be spent on other
Some traps can be multi-purpose

Other prey can enter or destroy the trap
Traps have to be specific to the water area
Only fish of certain species are attracted to the lure
The trap only traps fish of a certain size

Editor’s addition: For good measure, the following videos show a couple of different kinds of indigenous fish traps:

Even Congress Wants GMOs Labeled | Rodale News

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Submitted by: Emily Main 2012-03-14

It's very clear that the U.S. public wants genetically engineered, or GE, foods labeled. Since its launch in October of last year, the "Just Label It" campaign has garnered more than 900,000 signatures to its petition asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require any food containing GE ingredients to be labeled. That's more than any other FDA petition in history.

Read More: What Are GMOs?

And it looks like Congress, at least, is listening. On Monday, 55 Republican and Democratic politicians from the U.S. House and Senate signed a letter in support of the Just Label It petition and supporting the 92 percent of Americans who, survey after survey shows, want labeling of GE foods. In their letter, the congressmen and senators write:

"At issue is the fundamental right consumers have to make informed choices about the food they eat…The agency currently requires over 3,000 other ingredients, additives, and processes to be labeled; providing basic information doesn't confuse the public, it empowers them to make choices. Absent labeling, Americans are unable to choose for themselves whether to purchase GE foods…. We urge you to fully review the facts, law, and science, and side with the American public by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods as is done in nearly 50 countries throughout the world."

Read More: The New GMOs: Even More Toxic

GE foods have gone unlabeled for so long because when the FDA was reviewing their safety back in the '80s and '90s, biotech companies convinced the agency that GE foods were fundamentally no different than non-GE foods. However, the FDA's own scientists in 1996 said that, based on the available evidence, fiddling with the DNA of a crop could increase people's food allergies to that crop and lower its nutritional value. A recent study found that genetically modified plant genes caneven survive in your digestive tract.

Check out the list of senators and congressmen who signed the letter and thank yours if you see his or her name.

Then, sign the Just Label It petition, if you haven't already, and add your name to the growing chorus of Americans who want the right to know just what they're eating.

Mar 23, 2012

Yo Yo Trap- Survival Fishing - YouTube

Uploaded by sigma3survivalschool on Mar 7, 2011
This a video on how to employ light weight yo yo traps for your survival bug out kit. They can easily be setup in many configurations and are extremely lightweight for the amount of food they can produce. This is a must have item for your bug out and kit and one of the many techniques we teach at Sigma 3 Survival School. www. survivalschool .us

Next Earnhardt Star Tearing It Up in NC

By Jeff Owens | Thursday, March 22, 2012
Karsyn Elledge, daughter of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller and niece of Dale Earnhardt Jr., is following her family into racing. // HAROLD HINSON, HHP/HAROLD HINSON

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has fun in Nationwide race, Danica Patrick struggles
Dale Earnhardt Jr. acquires car that Montoya crashed into jet dryer
Dale Earnhardt Jr. regrets contact with Jeff Gordon, speeding penalty
For Dale Earnhardt Jr., other drivers, winning at Bristol special
Dale Earnhardt Jr. set to defend Most Popular Driver award
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he must give team better feedback

It was obvious early in his career that Dale Earnhardt Jr. had inherited some of his racing talent from his famous father.

Now it appears there may be another family member with some of the Earnhardt racing genes.

And she’s a girl.

Karsyn Elledge, the daughter of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller and granddaughter of the late Dale Earnhardt, is making quite a name for herself racing Mini Outlaw cars on the dirt tracks of North Carolina.

Karsyn, 10, is entering her third season in the Mini Outlaw Series box stock division at Woodleaf (N.C.) Speedway and Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, N.C.

In her first season in 2010, she scored three feature wins in nine starts and never finished worse than third. She also had four heat victories and capped her inaugural season by placing second in the 2010 East Coast Nationals at the Iredell County Fairgrounds.

Late last year she moved up to the 125cc go-kart class and won her very first race.

She is racing out of the shop owned by her father, NASCAR crew chief Jimmy Elledge, and has some support from JR Motorsports, which is owned by her uncle and run by her mom, Earnhardt-Miller.

Her uncle is impressed and a bit amazed by what he has seen so far.

“I’ve seen her race myself. She does really, really good,” Earnhardt Jr. said last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. “For whatever reason, she’s got the speed to be competitive, and she’s not scared of it at all.

“I don’t know how she knows how to go around a dirt track, and drive sideways and all those things, because she is just a little girl. But she knows. You know, she just knows.”

Her father, who is currently a crew chief for Turner Motorsports, says Earnhardt Jr. should see her now.

“She is doing well. It's impressive,” he said. “He hasn't seen her run the 125 yet. I think he needs to come see that. That's real impressive.”

Karsyn comes from a long line of racers. Her paternal great grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, was a legendary short-track racer while her other great grandfather was highly regarded car builder Robert Gee.

They were followed, of course, by Dale Earnhardt Sr., the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion who was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Her paternal grandfather, Terry Elledge, was a championship engine builder who built many of the engines Earnhardt won with and Elledge, her father, has won Cup races as a crew chief.

Even her mom raced, running Late Model cars as a teenager and young adult.

But it is her ties to Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, that keeps gaining her attention. She introduced Earnhardt Jr. during driver introductions last year prior to the October race at Charlotte.

“That was really fun, but I was really nervous,” Karsyn said in a YouTube video produced by JR Motorsports. “There were like 80 billion people out there and I was afraid they were going to scream way, way too long to where (I) couldn’t hear or say anything.”

Asked in the video of she is good at racing, Karsyn said, “Yes, I’m very good. … I love racing.”

A fifth-grader, Karsyn says she’s not sure if she wants to pursue a career in racing because she has other hobbies, like horseback riding.

She’s banking, however, on her mother and uncle providing her with JR Motorsports backing when she gets older.

“I hope so, but I’m kinda worried about that,” she said, “because my uncle still refuses to sponsor me.”

She has a big fan, though, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup star. Earnhardt Jr., who has won 18 Cup races and made the Chase last year for Hendrick Motorsports, says he has been surprised by her knack for racing and her development.

“I didn’t see it coming, but she is a lot of fun to watch, and a lot of fun to listen to,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It has really changed her as a person, too. I think the best thing about it is for her to get in there and do that really matured her as a person and made her a better individual to learn how to win, to learn how to lose and do those things with integrity.

“At first when she would lose, she wouldn’t do too well with that. She has become a much better person for it. I think it has helped her out tremendously away from the track, in school and everything else.”

Elledge also is surprised by his daughter’s development, but has been enjoying it.

“It probably is more gratifying as a parent than some of the things I have done in racing with rookie drivers,” he said. “I actually had no interest in her driving anything by no means, but she expressed interest in it and the rest has been kind of history.”

As a longtime racer from a racing family, Elledge said he is not worried about the dangerous aspects of the sport.

“I have run those type of karts myself and I know they are really safe,” he said. “As long as she is safe in it, I am not really that worried about it.

“She has flipped over in one already and she actually came back and won the race. I was kind of wondering how that would go, whether it would scare her to the point she didn't want to do it no more. She seems to be fairly fearless once she puts a helmet on.”

Now he appears to have a budding star.

“It is probably one of the only things that she has stuck with this long that she has been intrigued by and continues to be passionate about doing it every week,” he said. “I had no intentions of making the next Danica Patrick, but it looks like we might be on our way.”

Troubled Waters - YouTube

Uploaded by IowaLearningFarm on Oct 7, 2011

"Troubled Waters," explores rivers and the human relationship with them. Winner of an Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) award for excellence in educational production, "Troubled Waters" calls attention to human attitudes and treatment of rivers, both good and bad. "Troubled Waters" also won IMPA awards for the script and the original music score composed by Iowa musicians. "Troubled Waters" is filmed entirely on Iowa's waters by the Iowa Learning Farms, a program with Iowa State University Extension.

Something worth fighting for... Monte & Eileen

Iowa Learning Farms - Videos

A Culture of Conservation video series

A new video series “A Culture of Conservation” is now available from the Iowa Learning Farm. The series of six short videos explores the relationship we have with soil and water and offers ways for everyone to have an active role in protecting and preserving the Earth’s natural resources.

To request any of the ILF videos on DVD, contact Iowa Learning Farms, email: Be sure indicate which DVD you want and also include a USPS mailing address.

Building a Culture of Conservation: Iowan to Iowan, a 7-minute video that provides an overview.

The Water is Life (8:05) video reminds the audience how important clean water is to the body, the community and the Earth.

We All Have a Place in the Watershed (9:05) defines watersheds and how humans interact within them.

In Don’t Call it Dirt: A Passion for Soil (7:55) viewers are asked to think about soil and how it is used. The video also provides ideas in which everyone can improve soil quality and keep it where it belongs.

The Work of Our Hands (9:45) discusses the relationship of societies and agriculture, historically and today.

Reclaiming Stewardship (10:45) highlights several Iowans who are working to achieve the goal of building a culture of conservation.

Troubled Waters (26:21) explores our relationship with rivers and streams.

NEW!! Out to the Lakes (43:15) addresses watersheds and water quality through lakes and the water bodies that feed them.

You can view all of the ILF videos on Iowa Learning Farms' YouTube channel.
Conservation Station video:

See what the Conservation Station is all about in this 6 minute promotional video on our YouTube channel.

How-To Videos:

You can view all of the following how-to videos in chapters on Iowa Learning Farms' YouTube channel.
Converting Your Planter for No-till Operation
Adding a Cover Crop to a Corn-Soybean System
From Gully to Grass: Implementing Grassed Waterways
Manure Managment and Conservation

You can also request a free DVD of any of Iowa Learning Farms' videos. Email, indicate which DVD you are requesting and include a mailing address.

Iowa Learning Farms to host July 27 field day near Greenfield - Neely-Kinyon Field Day

Ames, Iowa—Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is sponsoring a field day at the Iowa State University (ISU) Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm near Greenfield, Adair County, on Wednesday, July 27, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The field day will include a complimentary dinner, and information about strategies for no-till as well as information about incorporating perennial vegetation to enhance no-till. Attendees will be able to see and learn about Giant Miscanthus and other perennial energy crops. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Farmers and landowners interested in beginning no-till or who are experienced no-tillers can learn from the speakers at the field day. Greenfield area no-till farmer Randy Caviness will share his experiences from over 20 years of no-till crop management. Jeremy Singer, research agronomist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will answer questions about managing fall-seeded cover crops. The benefits of cover crops include enhancing no-till by reducing soil erosion and improving long-term soil tilth and water quality.

Also speaking are ISU Extension agricultural engineer Matt Helmers, who will discuss the potential of integrating perennial prairie strips with row crops to limit sediment and nutrient losses from crop acres. Emily Heaton, ISU assistant professor of agronomy, will showcase Giant Miscanthus plants that are being grown at the research farm. These perennial plants are being tested as an alternate source for biofuel energy production. ISU Extension agricultural engineer Mark Hanna will show farmers how to equip planters for successful no-till corn or soybean planting in high residue levels and will also offer farm energy and money-saving management tips.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their families to the field day to see the Conservation Station–a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about the importance of soil and water quality. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with displays and activities to learn about soil and water quality. Kids who attend the field day can become members of the “conservation pack” by participating in the Conservation Station’s activities.

The ISU Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm is located two miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, then one-half mile east on 260th Street and a one-half mile north on Norfolk Avenue.

Iowa Learning Farms are building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF staff are working together to encourage farmers to implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the US EPA (section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World » Semi-Finalists for the 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Announced!

Posted By Mark Boyer On March 22, 2012
Full Story:
[1]Every year, the Buckminster Fuller Institute [3] hosts a competition inviting designers and innovators to tackle some of the planet's most pressing problems in the spirit of the late, great architect and inventor for which the organization is named. Because of its focus on humanitarian and environmental design, it's one of our favorite contests [4], so we were excited to learn that the semi-finalists for the 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge [5] have been announced! Click through our gallery to see them all and tell us which one you think should be the winner by commenting below.
Earth Roofs of the Sahel, earth structures, timberless houses, Africa, Buckminster Fuller Challenge, Buckmister Fuller Institute, green building, green design,
[19]This year’s semifinalists range from familiar topics like Earth Hour [20] and the Living Building Challenge [21], to a project that produces fuel and fertilizer from agricultural waste in Africa [22]. A couple of teams have developed portable, off-grid lights, and several others are working to develop tools for health care providers working in the developing world. Previous winners have included Eco Machines inventor John Todd [23], marine conservation group Blue Ventures [24], and Operation Hope [25].
So far, the distinguished panel of judges has narrowed down the field of contestants from 162 to 18 semifinalists, but their work isn’t done yet. On June 6, the winner will be announced in New York City and presented with the OmniOculi sculpture and $100,000 in prize money. As Bucky Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Congratulations to all of the semi-finalists, and good luck!