Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 7: Compost & Soil Testing

In the last several episodes, we’ve talked the benefits of following the pillars of soil health. We’ve spread the soil-health Bible far and wide, and now it’s time to start growing.

In our latest episode, we discuss how to measure what your soil has in it. We discuss the “shovel-test” method and the chemical-test method, and once you learn what’s going on in your soil, how to add soil-amendments to maximize your soil’s growing power.

We also talk on the subject of compost, how it’s made, and how we apply it. Moreover, we go into how to make our compost tea. Now, this isn’t your English grand-marm’s tea. It’s a fluid based mixture seeped with our very own homemade compost.

Included is our weekly Garden Update, where Dave discusses moving towards (finally) a more warm season, and our very first WWOOFer. You can read more about Alayna here. Lots to listen to. Let’s get started!

 

For those that are interested in a more detailed “recipe” of compost, you can find a pretty good video below. They cover the necessary “ingredients” for a well-functioning compost pile.

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Our First WWOOFer

Hailing from the farming community of Winsted, MN in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents have been using, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.

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Alayna stepped right into the planting season her first day.

Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.

“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”

It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.

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Eco Camp Registration Open

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WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO AT ECO CAMP?

Eco camp is a week-long day camp for children ages PreK-6th grade. We believe a passion for stewardship begins with cultivating a love of nature and being outdoors. We’ll discuss plants, animals, renewable energy, gardening, composting, recycling, and how to be a responsible caretaker of our planet. Children will be engaged in environmental education through a variety of lessons, activities, games, stories, crafts, garden experiences, outdoor play, healthy snacks, field trips, and more!

WHEN IS ECO CAMP & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

  1. 1st & 2nd Grade – Nature Nuthatches – June 18th – 22nd
  2. 3rd & 4th Grade – Sustainable Sparrows – July 9th – 13th
  3. 5th & 6th Grade – Conserving Chickadees – July 23rd – 27th
  4. PreK & Kindergarten – Recycling Robins – August 6th – 10th

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 6: Covering Your Soil

Well, we did it! We got through all four principles of Soil Health. We talked about maximizing biodiversity, we dug into minimizing soil disturbances, and we needed to let everyone know how important it is to keep roots in the ground.

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There’s so many reasons to keep your soil covered!

We also begin with our Garden Update as Dave W. talks about a little mice problem he’s seen in the hoop house and what he’s done to help resolve pests. The garden crew has also spent time marking and cutting logs for mushroom cultivation.

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Reducing our Landfill Output

Reading that an item takes eleventy bazillion years to break down in the environment makes for great attention grabbing stuff when writing articles on green living, but the more I research various related topics, the more I find differences in estimations.

Recycling is great as it keeps our landfills from filling up. However, even if we choose to purchase biodegradable plastics and post-consumer made notebooks, it’s not even a guarantee that we’re making a difference.

Take a look at how our modern landfills work. Modern landfills have mountains of regulations and environmental concerns to deal with, making their task of keeping up with the amount of trash we produce to be an extreme duty. Kudos to all who do! It’s truly a thankless job.

What this post is trying to point out is that even despite all the hard work that landfill workers and administrators do to minimize the harm, they can’t do enough in the face of a planet that doesn’t help.

If we continue to purchase more items, with little concern for how those items are made, packaged, delivered, and eventually tossed into the trash, little progress is going to be made on the landfill front.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 5: Minimize Soil Disturbances

New episode is live! Jim, Allison, and I talk about the importance of keeping your roots in your soil, and how key it is for proper soil health. While I liked to call it “no-till”, Jim & Allison were quick to let me know that it is, rather, called “Minimizing Soil Disturbances”.

We also hear from Dave in this week’s Garden Update as the crew tries to mitigate the weirdness of this spring. He tells us how the wild temperature fluctuations and freezing cold has changed how the garden crew is getting the soil ready for the spring, which is right around the corner, I swear!

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Next Level Recycling

This month, we’re focusing on the most identifiable action of “going green.” It’s not Kermit T. Frog (however, that little amphibian has lots to say about being green) It’s not the Green Monster at Fenway. Nor is it the horrible (but oh so delicious) Shamrock Shake. Of course, I’m going to be talking about recycling.

But, while we’re on the subject, I wonder if McDonalds has any idea how much money they would make if they made their little green shake available year-round. The profits alone from my wallet would probably make it worth their time. I’m sure there was a marketing guy who thought up the term “engineered demand” and threw the idea to his bosses and they ran with it, leaving us poor suckers waiting for the magical time of year when we can punish our bodies. (And don’t get me started on the McRib!)

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If you think about recycling as a game, you and the planet can both win!

Where was I? Oh yes, recycling?! Yes, that sounds more like the purview of this blog. Recycling: taking something you have and don’t need anymore and turning it into something else…hopefully, again and again. It’s one of the pillars of the environmentalism movement. It’s what we’ve been hearing for decades, and the necessity of recycling is finally being taken seriously. We can see this by how simple it is to do in our society.

Look at any recycling tote. You can get a little plastic tote and fill it with mixed recyclables willy-nilly. Papers, bottles and cans (and just clap your hands) can be picked up every week from your curb. No hassle. No sorting. They do that for you at the center. All you have to do is make sure you put your recyclables in that tote and bring it to the curb. Here’s a quick FAQ if you’re looking for a list of curbside recyclables. Recycling is so easy. It’s so mainstream. Some might even say too easy and too mainstream.

Well, I’ve got some ideas that will help you go to the next level.

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Turtle Talks Podcast; Episode 4: Soil Diversity

The latest episode of Turtle Talks with the Garden Crew. We talk about the importance of having diversity in your garden. Instead of growing row after row of tomato plants, it helps to alternate your plant selection. This helps grow healthy soil and happy ecosystems, above and below ground.

PLUS, we introduce our “Garden Update” to give you an idea of what we’re doing on campus.

Stay tuned for future episodes twice a month!

48 Hour Water Strike Challenge

Did you know that there are over 700 million people that don’t have access to clean drinking water, and over 2 billion that don’t have access to proper sanitation?

This blew my mind!

With that knowledge, I wanted to bring awareness to how often we take for granted how easy we can have clean, drinkable, potable, flushable, water just at a flick of a wrist. The average daily water use in America is 80-100 gallons per person. This includes drinking, cooking, bathing, teeth-brushing, and toilet use.

So, my thinking is I need to draw attention to this. Someone needs to make sure other know about how fortunate we are in our communities. In central Minnesota, we’re blessed with miles and miles and acres and acres of fresh drinkable water. However, we must be good stewards of these abundant riches.

So, my plan is to use zero water for 48 hours. I planned on utilizing none of these.

You read that right.

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I routinely drink 2-3 of these during my work day. My work is cut out for me.

No water of any kind. No juices, no soft drinks, no teas, and no energy drinks.

No bathing. That means no showers, no sponge baths, and no hand-washing (yuck).

No toilet use. I’ve taken that to mean essentially means no flushing or normal toilet use. Luckily, the engineers up here at the HUG campus have designed a composting toilet, which uses zero water. How fortuitous. I will use hand sanitizer for clean up afterwards, just to be safe. But, remember those over 2 billion people that DON’T have access to hand sanitizer, let alone soap and water.

No teeth brushing. This is a huge deal for me. I brush my teeth at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. It’s a dumb obsession I have. I won’t leave the house before slapping the ol toothbrush between the gums. It’s something I’ll just have to deal with, maybe by using gum or mints.

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Cool Water Charities

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. We are home to more shoreline than Alaska, Hawaii, and California combined. We take pride in the fact that we have pristine, clean, usable water for drink and play. We base our lifestyles around it. We base our livelihoods on it. Clean usable water is so ingrained in our Minnesota culture.

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HDT’s hometown of Pine River utilizes it’s water sources for drinking and recreation.

With our overabundance of great water, do we take it for granted? Probably not. But, are we blessed? I think we are. Just last year, I was able to write a series of posts focusing on the MANY beaches in the #BrainerdLakesArea. (Gull Lake Recreation Area was my clear favorite).

However, look at other areas of the United States, and then widen your view to other areas of the globe. With other areas of the world suffering through a seemingly endless drought, unusable or unavailable water supplies, and zero access to sanitary water conditions, there has to be something we can do to help.

Fortunately, there are many water charities that are putting the effort into making water more accessible to both communities and nations, alike. Here are just a few:

Water.org

Co-founded by Matt Damon, Water.org seeks to go beyond drilling wells to ensure that all projects are sustainable for the long-term, involve local partners and community members, adequately address sanitation and hygiene, and have appropriate monitoring systems in place to keep track of issues and successes. They have also developed the WaterCredit initiative, which uses small loans to individuals and communities to empower people to address their own water needs.

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