Hosted by Carter Wallace and Rishi Kumar
This episode first broadcast on 12/6/12
This weeks segments:
Rishi Kumar with a session of Weed Therapy.
More about weeds and their benefits here:
– If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em! 10 Common Edible Weeds
– Discover Beneficial Weeds in the Garden
– Useful Weeds
Mark Mcafee, founder of Organic Pastures Dairy and raw milk evangelist
Rosie Diveen on How to Make Kefir.
More info on Kefir:
– What is Kefir?
– How to Make Kefir
Carter: Hello, and Welcome Focus on Food, LA’s media voice for the issues around food justice, urban ecology, DIY kitchen empowerment, and building community through an engagement with our Food. I’m Carter Wallace
Rishi: and I’m Rishi Kumar. And we are the founders of the Institute of Urban Ecology. This is soft launch of our new podcast series which can be found online at instituteofurbanecology.org. Today’s show will be feature a lesson in building living soil through a process called sheet mulching, an interview with author Ramiel Nagel on the link between our diet and tooth decay, and as always a visit to the focus on food kitchen with our resident food artist, Rosie Diveen.
Carter: So join us now, as we walk away from the false dependence on Food Inc, and encourage our own resourcefulness and wisdom, as we realize a healthier, happier, and holier present.
Today we are going to introduce you all to a great simple method of jump starting your garden soil called `Sheet Mulching’.
When building a garden, We start with the soil because that is the source of all the nutrition for any plant. Most soils in our urban environment are dead because they lack many of the elements which produce healthy living soil. They have been compacted by our cars, starved by our rakes, and dehydrated by our concrete structures. By reversing these three patterns, we can begin the cycle to regenerate living soil and the ecological systems which can bring health to our gardens and our communities.
Sheet mulching, also known as Lasagna Mulch, is a simple process of layering organic matter, or what we might call soil food, onto the soil surface. We are currently implementing this method on a 1 acre parcel of land at the Urban Ecology headquarters in Altadena. So, as I said, we are just layering organic matter, which is any material that naturally degrades over time. Examples are wood chips, cardboard, newspaper, kitchen scraps, compost and manure. Again, anything biodegradable.
Before we start our sheet mulch, we’ll first have to decide what area we want our garden to be in, so that we get an idea of the amount of material we may need. For every sq ft of ground space, we’re going to gather about 1.5 ft of material in height. So if you have a 100 sq ft area, you’re looking at 150 cu ft of material. You’ll also want to look at whats growing in the ground already. Is it totally empty? Or covered with grass or weeds you don’t want?
Once you’ve answered that question we can actually start the process. Start off by laying down a ½ inch of any biologically active material over the whole site: this can be compost, worm casting, or animal manure. These materials will help jump start the biological activity which break down all the organic matter we’ll be layering on top of it. Now after you’ve laid down the compost, hose down the soil to give it a good soaking
If you have grass or other weeds you want to suppress, you’re going to next add 1-2 layers of cardboard. Break the cardboard down so its flat, and then remove any tape you see on it. Lay the cardboard over the complete surface of your garden area, being sure not to leave any gaps weeds could poke through.
Next add another layer of compost or manure.
Next, you’re going to add your bulk organic matter. This can be anything like straw, yard waste, leaves, ground bark, stable sweepings, wood shavings, or a mixture of these. A nice mixture of green and brown colored materials is best in this layer. About 50% brown and 50% green.
On top of all that add 1-2 inches of compost. This can be compost you’ve made at home or bagged material from the nursery. Get the cheapest compost you can find for this. No need to pay more than $4/bag, just make sure its got nothing in it but organic materials.
Finally we’ll add 1-2 inches of thin leafy materials, such as straw, leaves, or hay. This layer will insulate everything below and speed the decomposition process.
So at this point we’ve added a ton of food for all the organisms that live in the soil from bacteria to fungi to worms. All those guys are going to gobble down all this wonderful organic matter, pooping along the way and creating that special thing called humus or fertile soil. Worms will begin to move, bringing your original soil up and the composting materials down, reducing the compaction that has been suffocating your soil life previously. Finally, all this material is going to soak up water by the gallons, creating a wonderful environment for plant roots.
Once you’re all done, you’ll just need to wait 4 to 5 weeks till you start planting food into your sheet mulch. A good way to check if you’re ready to plant is to stick your index finger down into the sheet mulch, and check the temperature. If its really hot, wait a bit longer so you don’t cook the roots of your plants.
So thats pretty much it for sheet mulch. We are just adding a bunch of soil food on top of our garden, and letting nature do the work. For more details on how to sheet mulch, visit our website instituteofurbanecology.org and click on the Focus on Food tab.
Interview with Mark McAfee
[No transcript available]
How to Make Kefir with Rosie Diveen
[No transcript available]
Rishi: For more on anything you heard today, visit the Focus on Food tab on our shiny new web site: InstituteofUrbanEcology.org, and like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter at focusonfood fm.
Carter: That’s InstituteofUrbanEcology.o r g, and facebook and twitter at focusonfoodfm. And feel free to write us with any questions, comments or interest in getting your hands dirty, at firstname.lastname@example.org. So thanks for listening and stay tuned to Focus on Food where we will showcase the many ways we are reclaiming our access to healthy food and vibrant communities.
Rishi: To keep up with us on our latest classes, events, and work parties, sign up for our newsletter and subscribe to our podcast at instituteofurbanecology.org.
Well that’s all for this show. As a parting thought, we encourage you to take a moment before every meal to say thanks, for gratefulness is great fullness. Until next time…