Archive for the ‘Compost’ Category

Organic Gardening: The Problem of Contaminated Manure

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014


by Catherine Haug, April 23, 2014 (Image, right, used with permission from the Organic Consumers Association)

We all want to eat plant food that is healthful, not only for us but also for the soil in which it is grown, for the water that quenches its thirst, and for the air which provides the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.Yet most of the food in grocery stores and supermarkets does not meet that criteria. Instead, it contains GMO ingredients and as a consequence is contaminated with plant-killing chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup) and animal-killing chemical pesticides.

So we turn to foods that are raised organically – both plant and animal foods. Some of us raise our own. However, in our quest for organic, healthful food, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. For example: (more…)

PBS Videos: The Lexicon of Sustainability

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Chickens at feed

Chickens at feed

by Catherine Haug, March 2014 (photo, right by Keith Blaylock)

Check out a very informative and entertaining series of short videos that explores new vocabulary associated with farming, food security, and other sustainability topics. From the Lexicon of Sustainability home page:

“For the past three years we have conversed with the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming. They have shared their insights and experiences… and contributed their words to our rapidly growing Lexicon of Sustainability. To spread their knowledge our photography project has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book and lastly a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon.”

Read on for more about, and links to the videos. (more…)

Gathering Summary, Fall Garden Preparation by Ronny Honthaas, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 18th, 2013

by Catherine Haug, October 18, 2013

Ronny provided a presentation outline at the event; I’ve included its text in the summary, below.

For those who don’t know Ronny, she keeps bees and horses, both of which are major contributors to her wonderfully lush garden in the Columbia Falls area. In the past she has given two  other presentations for ESP:  Managing an Organic BeehiveHerbs and Their Traditional Uses, and she participated on the Sourdough Panel.

She titled her presentation, “Fall Garden Prep Talk, or Starting your Garden.” That subtitle needs a bit of explanation. If you do all the work to start your garden in the fall, it saves you a lot of work in the spring. The amendments (compost, manure) and mulching added in the fall, work through the cold months to make your garden fertile and ready for germinating seeds in the spring. Plus there are lots of seeds you can plant in the fall, for spring and summer harvest.

Read on for Ronny’s handout/outline, with my notes added.


Organic vs chemical fertilization for farms, gardens

Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Dryland Farming - Palouse Hills

Dryland Farming – Palouse Hills

by Catherine Haug, August 15, 2013

(photo, right from Wikimedia Commons)

Our readers believe in using organic methods to feed their gardens, but do we all walk the talk? Do we share our belief, our method with our neighbors? Do you compost your food and garden waste, then use it to augment your soil? Do you add manure to your compost to heat it up? Do you use aged manure to augment your soil?

Have you considered that if everyone – including farmers – used organic methods in their gardens and fields, that we could completely replace the need for chemical fertilizers? Have you ever wondered how the widespread use of chemical fertilizers come to replace natural organic methods?

It’s all about nitrogen. It is the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, but it doesn’t feed our plants in that form. In order to be useful to plants, it has to be ‘fixed,’ which means converted from nitrogen gas (N2) to ammonia (NH3). Fixing nitrogen requires enormous amounts of energy, amounts that can only be provided in an industrial setting. But using manure and composting food and garden waste bypasses the need to fix nitrogen, because it is already in a fixed state in manure and compost. Thus have humans been able to grow their own food since the dawn of agriculture eons ago. (more…)

Gathering Summary: Survival Skills: Water in the Wild and at Home, by Doug and Chelsey Luehr, May 15, 2013

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

by Catherine Haug, May 23, 2013

This is just a short synopsis; you can find more detail in the complete, printable pdf file: [a link will be added here when available]. See also presentation handouts:

This presentation was in two parts:

  1. Doug Luehr on water gathering and purification methods when in the wild or away from home; and
  2. Chelsey Luehr on how to live without running water, specifically hygiene and waste management at home.

See also their business website

Guerrilla Gardening

Friday, March 15th, 2013

GuerrillaGardening.orgby Catherine Haug, March 14, 2013

(photo from

Wikipedia defines Guerrilla Gardening as: “gardening on land that … is an abandoned site or area not cared for by anyone.”

Want to be a Guerrilla Gardener? Check out the TED video: Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA

Where to plant?

Choose land, preferably public, that is being abused or neglected. Land that could benefit our environment by nurturing deep-rooted carbon sequestering crops, or benefit our hungry by providing fresh food for your local food bank.

Look for unloved public space with neglected flower beds, planters that collect litter and weeds, or bare plots of mud.

What to plant?