Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wednesday May 26, Soil + Honey

Sarah Krones joined our class from Parks + People to discuss the importance of soil.


Soil is crucial in physically supporting the root system, retaining and purifying water, and a necessary role in the food web; it is home to thousands of bacteria, mycellum, fungi, protysts, animals and termites.

We discussed the main characteristics of soil;
1. Color (the darker the brown, the more nutritive)
2. Particle size (descending from gravel, to sand, to silt to clay)
3. Soil Texture (varying degrees of clay, sand and silt)

4. Soil Structure (varying ratios of air, water, mineral and organic matter)
5. Soil pH (nutrient availability is highest between 6 & 7)

We covered an extensive amount of soil scenarios, including urban challenges like lead, compaction and increased temperatures due to concrete. For lead contamination it is safe to eat from fruit bearing plants (tomatoes, peppers, beans...) but not to eat leaves/roots (things like mustard greens are intentionally used to absorb lead in the soil, so they are not edible).

Sarah also stressed the importance of composting, helping to add more organic matter to soil (a recommended 15 % for healthy soil) as well as using cover crops in between planting to keep soil in place/hydrated/and continuing the mineral cycle.

A Few Cardinal Rules:

-Always add compost to your soil.
-Test your soil. ribbon test* (for texture) + ph test
-Don't walk on it, it compacts it!
-Keep it covered! (leaf litter, straw, ground cover plants)

*how long of a ribbon can you form tells the texture!
short- sand
med- sand + clay
long- clay

I also wanted to add a little more info about the composting toilets I asked about. Tis a whacky and wonderful concept we could benefit from embracing. Not only is creating top soil one of the more pressing environmental concerns, but this utilizes the nutrients of human manure, closing the loop completely!!! with poop!
here is a diagram
Here are pictures of ones I had the pleasure of using at IPEC, in Brazil.

raised off the ground, this is one of 2 in this structure.
and collected periodically in the back. At certain phases each toilet would be out of use before it was collected from.
look em up! they're not as wierd as they sound...

followed by a presentation from Meme of Baltimore Honey.


Baltimore Honey is a group of dedicated beekeepers making the world a better place one hive at a time. They run Community Supported Apiaries where you can pay to support their cause annually and benefit from their honey or join to be a beehive host on qualifying properties. They are helping fortify the bee population and decrease CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) as well as contribute to the overall pollination of our area.

Highlights were learning about the nutritive properties of honey, the industry of pollination and the fascinating social structure of bees:
queen bees,
worker bees (her daughters) + drones (her sons).
within the worker bees are countless roles, we heard just a few:

Attendant Bees- clean
House Bees- take pollen to builder bees
Builder Bees- build
Repair Bees- duh
Architect Bees-duh
Field Bees- collect pollen
Nurse Bees -feed babies
Mortician Bees- dead bee removal
Guard Bees- man the gates.

and more.... pretty amazing....

also fascinating was the explanation of
-(bee glue) nature's antibiotic, antibacterial, anti fungal miracle substance. look it up!

avoid buying mass produced as well as monocropped honey, be against commercial pollination, and raise more bees!

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