Living Soils

“It’s all about living soils,” the French farm fertility expert, Gilles Domenech, explains.

A living soil will retain and cycle water better, it will drain well, cope with drought, and not become compacted easilyRather than subscribe to one approach alone, we’ve studied many different ways to create Living Soils. We are developing our own methods after having studied organics and biodynamics, composting techniques, no-till and low-till farming, permaculture, terra preta, biochar, ramial chipped wood, fungi and the unseen world of microbes.

Waste Recycling & Composting

Compost, like almost all living things, needs air, water, and food.

We provide practical examples of how to compost, and recycle waste, for the benefit of the family, the community and the overall environment. All kinds of organic waste make fine ingredients for compost – read more about it in our blog on how to compost.

To learn more, contact us about talks, demonstrations and workshops. We also recommend the noted Rodale Institute in the USA, biodynamic traditions in Europe, numerous Australian holistic and organic farmers, and leading Australian educators like Milkwood and AllSun Farm in NSW, and Fair Harvest in Margaret River.

Organics & Biodynamics

 

We apply organic farming techniques in our garden, which mean no artificial chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. Organic gardens and farms apply a variety of methods including:

  • composting/completing the nutrient cycle;
  • naturally-derived sprays and mineral additions;
  • no till or low till;
  • green manures;
  • companion planting;
  • straw mulch mounding;
  • beneficial insect cultivation;
  • animal engagement;
  • nitrogen fixers; and
  • crop rotations.

One of the first things people often hear about biodynamics is that it involves planting by the moon cycle. If we consider that the gravitational effect of the moon causes ocean tides, it follows that that the moon’s gravitation would also affect us and plants. We’ve started integrating biodynamic farming techniques here at Stellar Violets. If you’re interested to learn more, we recommend the work of Australian biodynamics expert, Alex Podolinsky. If you’re local to us, we also have interesting documentaries that you may wish to borrow from our Life Library.

Permaculture

Permaculture is a design-based approach to human interaction with the environment that seeks to apply the three guiding principles of:

  1. Care of the earth
  2. Care for people
  3. Fair share

We undertook permaculture design training with Fair Harvest Permaculture in 2012, and highly recommend their courses. It’s also well worth a visit to their vibrant farm in Margaret River, Western Australia.

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

– Bill Mollison.

Microbes & Funghi

Soil life is one of the foundations for all life on earth. It’s made up of tiny, microbial life forms known as “microbes”, funghi, and plant roots. All of these do best when they’re left undisturbed.

Some conventional agricultural techniques have involved regular deep ripping into the ground. This results in devastation of soil life: the biological system breaks down, and in worst cases, deserts are created. To learn more about the role microbes and funghi play in creating living soils, read work by Dr Elaine Ingham from the Soil Food Web.

RCW – Ramial Chipped Wood / BRF – Bois Raméal Fragmenté

On a research trip in Europe we met with a french farmer named Jacky Dupéty. His preferred technique to create living soils is called Ramial Chipped Wood. The method originated in Quebec, and has sparked a great deal of interest and practical research around the world. Read more on RCW in our blog.

 

Biochar

Did you know that the surface area of a piece of biochar the size of your fingernail is equivalent to a huge mansion?  That means there’s plenty of space for microbes to move in! We’re using biochar – charcoal – as a key tool for improving our ancient, impoverished Western Australian soils.

Read more about it on our Biochar Machine project page.

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