Author Archives: Living Soils
If you are outside and want to know something about the soil you are working with, and don’t have any fancy equipment, then this is for you. With a little bit of experience you can get an idea of how much organic matter you have in your soil, how much clay you have, and how acidic or basic your soil is. The equipment you need is: 1) your eyes; 2) your hands; 3) a little water; and 4) a piece of pH litmus paper (never leave home without it).
Darker soil near the top (grass) has more organic matter in it, which makes the soil dark brown. Credit: NRCS
Organic matter –Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients, the source of energy for soil organisms, and a sponge for holding water in the soil. To know something about soil organic matter, just look at the color of the soil…
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We have a giant problem here in Florida with algae from the big lake.
Honestly, I went through grad school in Oceanography, and although I’ve seen plenty of sea slugs and nudibranches while diving, I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering a Sea Hare. At least, I don’t think so, since they resemble sea rays as they glide through the water. Now, every time I surf, I’m looking for them in the ocean like a digital Pokemon after reading this article:
Sea Slugs and Nudibranches are beautiful creatures, and they have and wonderful knack off being sweet little algae vaccums, of which we are in desperate need right now. Especially with the emergency in South Florida.
Through this article, I discovered the most wonderful, comprehensive site on sea slugs I’ve ever seen here:
I have NO affiliation with this site, I’ve just become enamored with the beautiful pictures of these…
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Excellent website by an entomologist.
Last June, after spending the day collecting insects at Sand Hills State Park in south-central Kansas with Mary Liz Jameson, Jeff Huether and I setup our blacklights at the edge of the dunes. We were hoping to attract males of the genus Prionus, following a hunch that maybe the dunes—a popular historical collecting site—would prove to be the habitat for the enigmatic Prionus simplex (known only from the type specimen labeled simply “Ks.”). We knew it was a long shot, made even longer by a bright moon and the unseasonably cool temperatures that settled over the dunes as the sun dipped below the horizon, and in the end no Prionus would be seen. We did see, however, some other interesting insects, one of the more interesting being males of Hammond’s lined June beetle—Polyphylla hammondi. Almost immediately after sunset a number of these large, chunky-bodied beetles resembling super-sized versions of their far more…
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For some reason terrariums are no longer done in school. They are a great learning device for children. I enjoyed this post so I have reposted it here.
Every year around this time, with the outdoors looking so gloomy and bare, I am starving to see something blooming and growing in my house. Christmas decorating is just a memory and the Philadelphia Flower Show is still not here yet! To satisfy my urge to garden I turn to terrariums. Terrariums are easy to create using the right plants and containers.
The preparation is simple for a terrarium, similar to making a layered salad in a bowl.
To see directions on making a beach scene terrarium, go to my post at Beach Scene Terrarium.
Step by Step Directions
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Great to see a teacher try to reach her students in an unconventional way.
Laura Jenkinson is not your typical Classics teacher: in her classroom, myths and legends take shape in cartoon form. As stick figures, Odysseus, Hector, Ajax, and the rest of the Trojan War gang guide her students through the worlds of the Iliad and Odyssey.
On Greek Myth Comix she shares the fun with the rest of us, breathing new life into tales many of us struggled with in school and rekindling our passion for the classics. She chatted with us about why her stick figures have no faces, teaching the smartphone generation, and how art helps her manage anxiety.
Check out Laura’s full comic explanation of hamartia.
Why did you first start creating Classics comics?
First, a New Year’s Resolution to be more creative, and second, an A-level Classics student applying for animation courses who asked me to help him make a portfolio. When we were studying the duels in the Iliad, he’d…
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Grow Bigger, Healthier Crops and Vegetables
The goal of every farmer and every gardener is to grow bigger, healthier crops and vegetables. Whether the crop is 1000 acres of beans or a backyard with herbs, spices and tomatoes, healthier plants are the desired outcome. The health of all plants starts with the root system.
Nutrient Absorption by Plants
The root system has a number of important functions, but for our purposes the absorption
of nutrients is the topic we’ll discuss. Of particular interest is the rhizosphere, The rhizospere is generally defined as the region of soil around the root influenced by root secretions and the microorganisms present.
Beneficial Microorganisms in the Root Zone
Its these microorganisms in the rhizosphere, or root zone, that can have a large impact on root development and ultimately plant growth.
The plant and the microorganisms form a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship. The plant secretes many compounds into the rhizosphere. These secretions attract microorganisms including mychorrhizae, Trichoderma, and beneficial bacteria. These microorganisms, in turn, secrete a number of growth factors and hormones that help the plants grow to their fullest potential. Here’s a few benefits from beneficial microorganisms:
- Plant Growth Promotion – production of plant growth hormones including auxins.
- Nitrogen Fixation
- Enhanced root growth
- Increase supply of nutrients including Phosphorus solubilization.
- Increase the efficiency of traditional fertilizers such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium.
Each of these benefits could be a topic to itself, but for today lets just note that microorganisms provide the plant with any number of benefits.
One of the keys, then, to growing bigger, healthier plants is to make sure the soils contain adequate amounts of beneficial microorganisms. In fact, hundreds of scientific research studies have shown that the use of beneficial microorganisms helps grow bigger, healthier plants and crops.
How can farmers and gardeners take advantage of the power of beneficial microorganisms? They can use biofertilizers. Very simply, Biofertilizers are fertilizers that contain living microorganisms. The use of biofertilizers, sometimes called soil probiotics or soil amendments, will increase the amount of beneficial soil microorganisms in the root zone.
Biofertilizers can be applied to crops in a number of ways. They can be applied as a seed treatment, as a root drench or as a foliar application. The key is to make sure that the biofertilizer gets to the root zone in the most efficient manner.
The use of beneficial microorganisms can have a great benefit for the farmer and gardener. The key to growing bigger, healthier crops plants is to use biofertilizers.
Custom Biologicals manufactures a number of biofertilizers. Biota Max is the favorite for gardeners. Commercial farmers use Custom GP, a Trichoderma product and Custom B5 a beneficial microbe product.
Custom can be reached at (561) 797-3008 or via email at Bill@Custombio.biz.
Happy Birthday America.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of…
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I don’t often run into posts about beneficial microorganisms. I’ve reposted this in its entirety. Enjoy.
I’m very well read. Possibly not in the sense of great literature – I’ve never read a whole novel by Dickens, my Shakespeare is shaky and I’ve managed the first chapter of Catch 22 about four times but never got any further. However, I work as a scientific editor and this means that I get to read some fascinating pieces of research (as well as some dull ones). And they come from all over the world because, mostly, I work with authors whose first language isn’t English. Much of the work that I read is at the cutting edge of its particular subject, whether that’s ecology, genetics, forestry, biotechnology, nursing or education, so I get to know about new ideas and technologies before they have even been published and become available to the rest of the world… which is how, a couple of years ago, I came to know about…
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