Recipe

South Florida Soil Building with Mulch

This is a short overview on how to make new soil in south Florida.

This video illustrates the result of two years of fun work.  Replacing the ugly traditional grass and sugar sand with plants of all kinds and tons of mulch repeatedly.  This was a low cost, highly sustainable approach to creating good soil without buying it.


Additionally, the heat and humidity make it an ideal place to create soil quickly and efficiently with almost no expense (but lots of moving mulch into place, so free is relative).

There are a few pieces of equipment needed:

  1.  A wheelbarrow or something to move the mulch in.
  2. A strong pitchfork.IMG_20160608_151537
  3. Get a dust mask if you are sensitive to mushroom spores (if moving the mulch within the first month it’s on location).
  4. Cardboard (I get mine from behind Pier 1, they have huge boxes and I can usually get what I need in one stop.  I ask the manager once for permission and go whenever I need it.)
The overview on how to create soil for almost free:
1.  IMG_20160504_120250Acquire Mulch.  Tree trimmers are always ready to drop off a batch, so call around, find a local trimmer and give them clear instructions where to drop the mulch.  Always get much more mulch than you think you need.  You don’t need yards of if, you need truckloads of it to grow soil.  (One truck load at a time!)
2.  Put cardboard  over any weedy areas and mulch over the cardboard heavily.
 3. Put mountains of it in the walkways (within reason for safety) and anytime it gets flat, add a bit more.  Add it to plant beds to keep the weeds down, as thick as you can (use cardboard in trouble areas).  Give a little space to plants that may rot if they come into contact with the mulch, but I usually just pile it on and most of the plants seem to work well with it.
4.  Twice a year, you sweep aside the mulch in the walkways and find that dark young mucky soil hiding underneath.  Use a flat shovel and shear off the top soil and put it in the beds (sometimes you may need to break it up).  Don’t go too deep,  just the top dark layer.  Put the half cooked mulch back in the walkway and then what?  Add more fresh mulch.  This is essentially replacing the need for peat, which was something I was unwilling to buy because it is a non-renewable resource.
This is me in my mulching outfit. Glasses were because I was chipping too, but you get the idea. :)

This is me in my mulching outfit. Glasses were because I was chipping too, but you get the idea. 🙂

One of the things I’ve found is that timing is important.  If you can move a freshly chipped tree onto its cooking location (where it will remain for months) it will cook that much faster because it is moist and quickly form the mycelium that creates the heat and soil we are after.

I’m adding 3-6 inches of rich topsoil every year with this process for my whole yard.

One more optional step:

You can take it a step further….  I added a wood deck over my mulch so that it is out of the sun and will cook faster.  (It also makes my wife happy since she doesn’t have to wobble through as much mulch when working in the garden.)

It is a bit more work, but the wood was free and sitting around.  The process is the same, except you build your mulch up and then put a floating deck over the top.  Once a year I lift one set of boards, grab the soil and replace the deck on some heaping fresh mulch, then I repeat for the next set of boards.  I will usually spray the underside of the wood with Neem Oil to help keep it from rotting away with the mulch.

 The REAL magic is sooo tiny!

The rock-star in all this is the bacteria and mushrooms that go to work on the mulch so quickly.  They may be small, but they are mighty and with a little bit of help they can do the work so much faster than you would expect.

IMG_20160529_153115And there is another exciting thing you can do with mulch.  You can create hot water!  Low/no cost options for hot water or priming your hot water heater with warm water to save on the electric bill.  If you want to learn more about this subscribe to my newsletter, it’s free and you can unsubscribe if I irritate you.  Sign up below:

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Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you think and be more sustainable everyday!

We are eating too much!

The basic premise is that we eat too much, too regularly.

Science is showing that we should eat less. Throughout history, back to Egyptian times fasting was valued as a health inducing practice.

Here are some options:

1. Eat ONLY during an 8 hour period each day (stresses the body, strengthens the mind with keytones)
2. Twice a week limit your intake to 500 calories as a fast.

Watch this slow moving, but informative TEDtalk.

Real Root Beer. Posting so I don’t lose the recipe :)

Journey on the back roads of Maine.'s photo.
Journey on the back roads of Maine.

Homemade Root Beer

Old Fashioned Root Beer Recipe Nourishing and healthy
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A simple and nourishing fermented homemade root beer (non-alcoholic) with herbs and beneficial cultures.
Author: Wellness Mama
Recipe type: Beverage
Ingredients

½ cup Sassafras Root Bark
½ teaspoon wintergreen leaf (or more- try this to taste but start with a little as it has a very strong flavor)
1 cup unrefined organic cane sugar like rapadura
¼ cup molasses
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tiny dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
dash each of coriander and allspice (optional)
2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
3 quarts filtered water
¼ cup lime juice (optional but good for flavor)
¾ cup homemade ginger bug or other starter culture like whey or vegetable starter

Instructions

Put the sassafras root bark and wintergreen leaf in a large pot. Add cinnamon, coriander and allspice if using.
Add 3 quarts of filtered water and turn on high heat.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs.
While still warm, add the sugar and molasses and stir until dissolved.
Let cool until warm but not hot and add the lime juice and then then ginger bug or other culture and stir well.
Transfer to grolsch style bottles or jars with tight fitting lids and allow to ferment for several days at room temperature.
Check after two days for carbonation and when desired carbonation is reached, transfer to refrigerator and store until use.
Enjoy!