At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
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Turning the soil important to fertility

Turning the soil regularly is important to fertilization. Even without the addition of manure (green or animal), more than 16 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen can be mineralized in the soil from tillage by giving air to the microorganisms in the soil. Tillage also creates small pores that, in the morning, have a pressure differential to the atmosphere and condense water in the soil, helping along the microorganisms. These pores also insulate the soil against excessive cold or heat, and help establish better soil structure to moderate the water content of the soil from excessive dryness or moisture.

Gardeners and farmers will choose either to till aisles in the spring or in the autumn. Some gardeners and farmers choose to till in the spring because it reduces disturbances to the insects and arachnids and other garden helpers. Other gardeners and farmers till in the autumn BECAUSE it disturbs the insects and arachnids and other critters they believe are harmful. It is possible to till in the autumn or winter without disturbing the life of the garden very much if a “reservation” system is used, in which about 20% of the land area of the garden or farm is kept in near-wilderness condition for the insects and arachnids and other small creatures to find refuge.

Whether you till spring or autumn, tillage is the perfect time to integrate manure (if you have some) into what will become the base of the beds – right where the plant roots will be able to access it. The roots don’t eat the poop, of course, but do eat the fertilized soil that results when microorganisms eat the poop. The manure warms the beds through the microorganisms eating it, and reduces frost damage by increasing the saltiness of the soilv

Top crops for cheimcals

When you’re doing your grocery shopping next time, here’s a report you might want to consider.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently published its seventh annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” which presents a list of the produce that has the most and least pesticide residue on it.  This does not mean that the produce on the list had the most or least pesticides applied, but rather tests the amount still on it by the time you are ready to eat it.  The point of the guide is to allow you to pick which fruits and vegetables you may want to consume in place of others while still getting your daily minimum fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet, NOT to discourage you from eating fruits and vegetables entirely!  It is important to note that all the produce, even the “worst” fruit of the list, still falls well below the safe levels set by the EPA, so all of the produce on the list had safe levels.

Here’s the report’s fndings, as published on


The highest levels of pesticide residue -- and dubbed EWG's "Dirty Dozen" are:






6.Imported nectarines

7.Imported grapes

8.Sweet bell peppers




12.Kale/collard greens


The produce with lowest levels of pesticide residue as determined by the EWG, starting with what ranked the lowest, are:


2.Sweet Corn





Debuting on the list this year is cilantro, which had not been previously tested by the USDA. The data showed 33 unapproved pesticides on 44% of the cilantro samples, which the EWG said was the highest percentage recorded on any items included in the guide since the data tracking started in 1995. Green onions (ranked No. 29), cranberries (No. 36) and mushrooms (No. 39) were also newcomers to the list.

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