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.
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.
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.
Last week children, families, entire schools, and communities across the nation participated in Screen Free Week, endeavoring to not use any screens during non school and work hours. That meant no smart phones, no video games, no TV, no computers, no screens of any kind. Several of us here at Happy Dancing Turtle participated as well, including me and my two daughters, 8 year old K, and 6 year old B.
Screen Free Week started on Monday, April 30, so the Saturday before that I told them all about it and that we would be participating. This news was met with some protest and with the girls watching TV or using their tablets every spare second they could! On Monday, I had an afternoon appointment, so their grandma picked them up from daycare and brought them home. When I arrived home, the girls were happily playing outside on the swing set. After a quick supper, we all headed back outside. The girls rode the go kart with their dad while I putzed around the yard. We headed in at 8:00 and got them ready for bed. After they were in bed, I turned to the giant pile of laundry that had amassed over the past week and got everything folded and put away. With the little time I had left until my bedtime after that massive undertaking, I finished a book I had started a few days before.
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.
Tuesday, February 27 is National Pancake Day (with International Pancake Day on March Sunday March 4 following close behind). Historically hosted as the last day before Lent, the date moves yearly and always occurs on Fat Tuesday (also known as Mardi Gras).
Since pancakes are universally loved, we thought we’d share out favorite recipes from around campus.
Jim’s Homemade by Hand Pancakes
Food & Water Security Coordinator, Jim Chamberlin thinks it’s better to take your time with your batter and that it’s not too important to be exact.
Chamberlin begins, “I start with four hand fulls of Natural Way Mills Gold N White Flour. Then I add two eggs, a couple capfuls of raw apple cider vinegar, and a couple blobs of melted butter. I pour in milk until I get a consistency of wet cement. Then I let it stand for two to 12 hours.”
I went to the St. Cloud IHOP to research some other famous pancake recipes.
1) Indoor Succulent Garden
One of the best things about succulents is their variety. You can fill your dining room table with so many varieties of succulents without repeating that you may have to eat your dinners in the kitchen. Not requiring constant attention, succulents are a perfect entry to putting some green in your house.
Go to Jessica’s Design Blog for more ideas.
2) Regrowing Veggies from scraps
Getting your kids to eat their veggies can be difficult sometimes, but now you’ve got a trick up your sleeve. Tell your child that once they eat their green deliciousness, they can turn their scraps into a living, growing plant. Some tasty veggies only require being set in a cup of water to get it sprouted again, such as celery, bok choi, and cabbage. Super easy and a great way to reuse. Check out here for more ideas.
If you missed out on the keynote address, Phil and Mike sang, told jokes, and even taught a thing or two. Thanks to the dynamic duo for taking the time to share topics like Aquatic Invasive Species and Climate Change, two topics crucially important to central Minnesota. If you’d like to learn more about Back to Basics, go to http://bit.ly/HDTB2B18.
**Registration for the 12th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics: Navigating Changing Currents, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, almost 50 vendors to shop at, informative and entertaining keynote speakers, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-4) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family! Workshops ARE FILLING UP! So, don’t miss out.**
Every winter in Northern Minnesota brings with it four things.
- Bitter cold
- Time to perfect your hot tottie recipe.
- A reinvigorated perspective on what is more uncomfortable: being “too hot” or “too cold”*
- Something wonderful.
For the last 12 years, that wonderful something has been the annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics! It’s here. It’s finally here!
We wanted to focus on the importance of water, so we made this year’s theme: Navigating Changing Currents. We wanted to make more aware the troubling times in our nation, politically anyways, so we brought in two amazing keynote speakers who are well-versed in the the importance of recognizing climate change, the worldwide ecosystem, and our place within it.
“We’ll share ‘Why we need to be concerned and what you can do about it’” stated Phil
Mike Duvall and Phil Hunsicker will keynote the event with “slides and songs.”
Hunsicker when commenting on the keynote he and friend, Mike Duval will deliver on environmental challenges facing Minnesotans. The duo will educate and entertain with a mix of slides and songs on topics like climate change and aquatic invasive species (AIS). Both Phil and Mike work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where Phil is an AIS Prevention Planner in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources and Mike is a District Manager of the Division of the Ecological and Water Resources.
***If you haven’t had a chance to check out the presenters at this years Back to Basics (the 12th annual sustainability event), I highly recommend you hurry.***
We try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have year after year sold out (I’m looking at you, Abbie!) We also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.
One presenter is looking to start a revolution.
Zachary Paige is looking to start an industrial (hemp) revolution.
Zachary Paige, a first time presenter at this years’ Back to Basics, has a passion for spreading the word of industrial hemp.
Paige insists, “Products such as plastic, high protein food products, building materials – rope, hempcrete, fiberboard, as well as textiles can be made at an affordable price right here in America from a crop that yields well in organic systems.”
Hemp and marijuana are related, but are different strains of the same plant species. Paige explains on the White Earth Natural Resource Department website,