Episode-1388- Building Soil, Cover Crops and More

One of the best ways a teacher can understand that he or she isn’t getting a specific component across properly is when he gets the same “wrong question” often.  My most common wrong question must most often be, “what do I plant for a cover crop”?  Why is the a “wrong question”, sometimes it isn’t but often it is, as is so often the case, “it depends”.

One of the biggest reasons it ends up being wrong is people are asking about a true cover crop.  Annual aggressive plants that fix nitrogen, build biomass and choke out weeds and grass, yet trying to establish pasture.  Used this way what you often get is bare dirt at the end of a season.

Today on the show we discuss the appropriate use of “cover crops” and what any people are actually looking to do, “over seed” and many other techniques and ways to build soil and improve soil health.

Join Me Today to Learn…

  • Why I try to not get deeply academic on soil
  • The simple difference between soil and dirt
  • What is a cover crop vs over seeding
  • Why is soil health so important to our society
  • The food web you don’t learn about in school and why it matters
  • The only one thing that builds structure in soil, it is a one word answer
  • The roles of life in soil
    • Bacteria provide glues
    • PH of aerobic bacteria is alkaline
    • Fungi grow in strands and form highways and bind structures
    • Soil with fungi will move to the acidic because soils produce acid
    • We can’t grow any plant we care about without fungi (Dr. Elaine Ingram)
    • Exudates – mostly sugar, a bit of protein and a bit of carbohydrate
  • The simple solutions
    • Keep soil covered
    • Do not compact soil
    • Add organic matter
      • compost
      • compost teas
      • mulches
    • Keep something growing
  • Remember healthy soil = healthy people

Resources for today’s show…

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14 Responses to Episode-1388- Building Soil, Cover Crops and More

  1. On your squash vine bore bug issue, I was reading the latest edition of Urban Farming. They mentioned burying a piece of the vine every two feet in soil, the vine will root where its buried and the bugs will only kill the original section of the vine. I don’t have the bugs here, so I don’t know if it works or not. I do know my vines like to root.

  2. Awesome episode

  3. Great show. Would love to hear more shows like this or at least your thoughts on adding minerals like azomite to beds…

  4. I loved this show Jack. I purchased a good microscope a few months ago with soil biology in mind (home brewing also). Dr. Ingham is a resource that helped me get the specs I should aim for. I don’t get much time at the house to work with it but It’s there when I do have time. I just wish more of her books were available on kindle.

  5. Great show Jack, as always.

    One thing I want to chime in on: You say that because people are still asking the same question, it is an indication that you are not teaching in a manner that is reaching people.

    I think it’s more likely that it is the same people that would go to a forum, click on “new topic” before even doing 30 seconds of research. It would be nice if they could just find a thread, read it, contribute to it and get the info they need.

    Thinking on a technological level, it would be cool to see a forum setup like that. Click on “New Topic” it asks you to put in keywords, and does a search in realtime for any related threads. Just a thought..

    My $.00002 (adjusted for inflation)

  6. Great show Jack. this should be an e-book.

  7. Had the thought of the pests vs. healthy soil in that the pest kills the plant, which then provide nutrients to the soil making it better. This seems akin to the “weed” grows itself out of a job for it has repaired the soil.

  8. Nice job. Great show. Your passion for this topic really came through and the information was made very ‘accessible’ because of that. I’m out to turn some compost and cover some soil.

    Thank you.

  9. I just loved this show and loved hearing Dr. Ingham a couple of times. It’s really opened our eyes. We’ve put in about 200 feet of swales last spring and have been planting on the berms but have been wondering the best way to get the ground on the uphill side to be built up without ending up building a berm on top of the swale! I think we’re going to have to cover crop it! It’s amazing the difference already in our yard almost one year in! I would like more podcasts like this to helping us understand in much greater detail about interaction of soil and microbes as well as plant interactions in general with each other. Like you said, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know!

  10. I keep thinking that maximizing shade should be a factor in improving the soil, to minimize evaoporation from the soil

    • Modern Survival

      As always it depends. One doesn’t maximize shade in a pasture, even a silvopasture.

  11. Awesome episode!
    Jack-You are aggravating a severe case of adult attention deficit disorder
    too many cool topics-not enough time
    I’ working on gathering info on several topics for the wiki, etc
    comfrey has already had a dramatic effect on my quality of life and maybe even helped to save it (another story)
    Soil is the foundation of all life. I would like to go back and define carrying capacity and biomass…2 useful concepts in the wiki
    next compare relative biomass in a healthy ecosystem ( compare total weight of invisible beasties with the plants and animals you can see ) I think you might be surprised but will need to do some homework first.
    Without permaculture soils we’re screwed.

  12. John Levering

    Hi Jack,

    I look forward to all of your podcasts and catalog and save all of your mp3’s in one date, guest, subject organized file.

    While virtually all of them are great, some like this, I add to the file name at the end “- EXCELLENT”.

    This one on soils has filled many voids in my knowledge. You taught it extreemly well. You explained the basics (which I did not know until this) very clearly, without getting into the “weeds” (pun intended). The military taught me to teach (armor battalion communictions radio section), and I still love to teach – I am spreading home/mobile battery systems here.

    While being a faithful listener and MSB member for less than a year I have learned so much thanks from your fine work. That includes taking me to other outstanding sources like Steven Harris, where I have now put together my own home/mobile battery backup system. Also, I cannot say enough about PermaEthos and Elijah Spring farm and am proud to be a founding member and am looking forward to the PDS where I will continue to learn at an exponential rate!

    While you might not think of your podcasts as “EduTainment,” I look forward to them as just that – rants and all. The theme/ending music is something I look forward from the beginning strain to the ending note.

    Keep up the good work,
    John

  13. Agoraculture

    I hope you are feeling better, Jack. The connections between soil health, nutrient depletion, and disease reminds me of this interview I would like to share, especially for the science on school shootings and mass indiscriminate dispensing of psychotropic drugs:
    http://www.bulletproofexec.com/gain-control-of-your-biochemistry-with-william-j-walsh-ph-d-podcast-132/

    Dr. Walsh has studied over 10,000 violent adults and children and is author of “Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain”. He has been using nutrition to treat mental disorders including ADD, Autism, Depression and violence (but the FDA won’t let him say that). Here are some excerpts from the transcript:

    “Dr. Walsh: Because if … we’ve done a study, as have others. There’s been about 50 school shootings since 1990 … 25 years there’s been 50 major school shootings where young people, students, have gone and shot other kids or teachers. More than 40 of them involve kids who were okay until they were about 14 or 15 years old. That’s completely different from the violent people that we studied. I studied 10,000 violent children and adults, and most of those kids were in trouble by the time they were three or four years old.

    These school shooters are different. They were okay. Most of them were pretty good students until they got to be about 14 or 15 or 16 and developed anxiety and depression, got put on an SSRI, and then disaster hit soon afterwards. I think that … and I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of people who know nutritional science who are beginning to believe that school shootings, many of them might also have to do with exactly that, with a side effect, a very nasty side effect of SSRIs.

    These antidepressants, if anyone gets one from a pharmacy, it has a little insert, and they warn about the fact that one of the side effects is suicidal ideation in teenage boys, in young men. I think that, to stop school shootings … what I proposed to them. I said what I think psychiatrists should do is … we’re not going to solve a problem by getting rid of the guns because there are 300 million guns in society. That won’t happen … certainly won’t happen soon, if ever, and then trying to identify mentally ill people who should not have guns, that will take forever. But the way that they could stop it fastest is to do blood tests before they give the SSRI.
    ….At Columbine, the two young men who shot the kids at Columbine … one of them had recently gone on Zoloft. I believe the other, Paxil, and they got dramatically worse, according to their parents, and became homicidal and suicidal. That’s happened over and over and over, dozens of times. Right now, they’re now preventing that knowledge from coming out. The last several school shootings … For example, the one in Connecticut, which was horrible, the young man who had shot the teachers and all those kids … it’s all been publicly released he was on a psychiatric medication, and they refused to identify it. I’ll bet it’s an SSRI just like all the other cases.

    I think there’s a quick answer to school shootings, and I think … I recently got a chance to tell this to a lot of psychiatrists, and my talk was taped, and a lot of the psychiatrists sign up so they can watch all the talks and not just a couple of them. As I said there are five types of depression.

    We find there are three major types of schizophrenia, each requiring different forms of treatment, completely different treatment approaches, different neurotransmitter abnormalities. I think we’ve … there’s a lot we don’t know, but its really epigenetics that has really pushed this forward so we can have truly effective therapies for most of these people.

    The reason is, until now, we’ve known a lot about diet, how to get good nutrients and quality nutrients into people. We’ve learned how to adjust chemicals that are in the body and made in the body, but what’s been missing are the enzymes, the genetically expressed enzymes that might be performing wrong because these genes might be misbehaving and giving you too much or too little of a particular enzyme. Now, with nutrient therapy, a natural therapy, we can fix this. I think we’re on the verge of a new era in psychiatry.”

    I would like to add that, since the 1990s, the US government has mandated fortification of wheat flour and baked goods with Folic acid, a synthetic form of Folate. The problem is a large amount of the population, including myself, can’t process it and the synthetic folic acid interferes with the real folates (there are many forms of folate and folinic acid and they are found in vegetables and meat). This results in build up of homocysteine, interferes with detoxification pathways and creates all sorts of problems, like birth defects. So, the government got everyone eating wheat at the expense of vegetables and meat, destroyed the soil and thinks they can just chemically synthesize and fortify what they think is missing. They think they are helping, but they are not.