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    Years and years ago, I began ordering many of these bulletins put out by Storey Publishing. This particular one was first published in 1978. Storey was known for their "homestyle" books and booklets—country living, farming, canning, crafting—you know—living the Good Life!! Many of the ones I ordered I read, but most I did not. I also have tons of agriculture books that I did read. Anyways, just out of curiosity, I Googled them to see if they were still around. Yep, they are, and quite a bit more modern, but still "homestyle." So I wondered if by chance these "ancient bulletins" were still around. Yep, they are. And I took it a step further to see if this particular bulletin was still available. Yep, on that, too. They are arranged alphabetically, plus it appears they have added quite a few more. This one has been revised and updated. It is 32 pages, and packed with useable information, as they all are. Gosh, I really have quite a few of them, including a number of the cookbooks which have been used a lot. Ok, so here's the bad part: they are now $3.95. Ooh, a bit pricy for such a tiny book. I think they were less than a dollar when I bought mine. Would I buy any more of them? Yeah, I might. Here is the site, and here is the Bulletin Page. You will be reading more reviews on these handy booklets. By all means check them out. They've been around for a long time.
    And now about this booklet. Well, in reality, I'm not sure anyone will still be around on this planet by next farm season at the rate we are going, but I plan to be somewhere, and most definitely farming, and most definitely living in peace and harmony with nature without climate terrorism, GMOs, 5G, and all the other toxic technological horrors that are sending us to oblivion. Creating fertile, natural soil would be important for the world of beauty in which I plan to live.
    Not long ago, after I read the Dover Doomsday Classic, Nordenholt's Million, in which the world's soil was destroyed and no one could grow food, I promised my readers to do a book on soil and nitrogen. So here it is.
    Campbell begins with some history on how soil was formed on the planet beginning with rocks ground down over millions of years. Then micro-organisms further pulverized the rocks into soil, producing acids and enzymes which released nutrients from the rocks and dust. Lichens and mosses lived and died adding organic matter to the inorganic minerals. Campbell says:

    Today, in the twentieth century, the average depth of topsoil the world over is about one foot. In the United States, unfortunately, the average depth is only five or six inches. Even at the accelerated rate at which nature can produce topsoil now, it still takes approximately 500 to 1,000 years to build a single inch of topsoil through the natural biomechanical process.
    In the past century alone, man has caused more erosion and loss of valuable topsoil than has ever happened in all of previous history combined.

    Years ago when I used to go around doing public speaking, one of my main subjects was the destruction of our ability to grow food on this planet. These statistics are certainly out of date, and I am sure the situation is so much worse. Between the floods, drought and the worst, of course, the creation of "agribusiness" we have set ourselves up for mass starvation. Please check out, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation.
    Campbell then goes on to describe the composition of soil, which he says is 95% minerals and the rest organic matter. Humus is thoroughly decomposed organic matter. Loam is ideal soil, crumbly and rich in humus. Since I have been treating my greenhouse soil with organic peat moss, I am reaching something near loam. Sandy soil is fertile, which I did not know because all I've ever had around here is clay. But sandy soil leaches nutrients. Clay added will help. That is not the reverse with clay. Adding sand does little good. Clay is rich in nutrients, but it sticks together too well and holds too much water. It is slow to warm up and dry out, and if tilled too early will result in big chunks that bake in the sun and become as hard as a rock. Campbell also discusses soil testing. You can buy your own soil-testing kit. Around here, which used to be a huge area of farmland, we no longer even have a functioning extension agency.
    He then goes on to discuss bacteria and other micro-organisms. He says bacteria make up 75% of the microbes found in soil. One cubic inch may contain billions. Soil organisms serve three purposes: they decompose organic matter in the soil; they transform organic proteins into usable nitrates; they "fix" nitrogen from the air to make it usable for plants in the soil. You will recall in Nordenholt's Million that those bacteria did just the opposite, rendering all soil on earth useless. Do NOT underestimate the importance of nitrogen! Campbell also notes that bacteria eat dead bacteria and many produce necessary enzymes, hormones, vitamins and antibiotics. They need a good supply of nitrogen and oxygen to keep healthy. Sawdust, woodchips, bagasse, which is sugar cane residue, and unweathered straw actually rob the soil of its nitrogen. Take note, suburban gardeners, whose flower beds are often thick with woodchips.
    He comments that plants need "an astonishing amount of moisture," 300 lb. to produce a pound of vegetables, in general. But keep in mind that water is very heavy, one cubic yard weighs nearly 1,700 lb.. And also keep in mind that it takes thousands of pounds of water to produce a pound of beef, which is yet another argument against eating meat, as areas of drought become more prevalent. Campbell discusses how plants use water, and explains the water table. At the point where water percolating down is no longer able to penetrate, such as when it hits bedrock, that is the water table. If it is too high, the land floods easily and plants have no means to extend their roots downward. I also want to add that in areas like mine here in Northeast Ohio, where we have, for ten year, experienced immense flooding, with the exception of this year, the water level becomes too high because there is so much water down there that has no place to go. My wells have been way above normal levels for all these years. Campbell also discusses installing drainage pipes, but if you, like me, live in a lower area than anyone else nearby, all your neighbor's water flows onto yours, and drainage pipes do not work on an upward slope!
    Campbell then talks about the need for soil to contain air, and how even "good" soil can become hardpan when heavy equipment travels over it too often. He recommends using a tiller, which of course is not practical for large fields, but many innovative farmers, at least back twenty-five years ago, were developing creative no-till methods and I experimented with those, too. Now, with the takeover of so much farmland by agribusinesses, totally oblivious to the nurture of nature; only absorbed in their personal greed, their solution is to simply dump more and more toxic materials into the soil to force plants to grow in unnatural conditions. Which is what GMO seeds are engineered to do. The hell with the fact that they're linked to cancer and other diseases. Therefore, what we eat is no longer grown in "dirt" but in a chemical cocktail, and sometimes barely real food. Yum.
    There are just a few more points I wish to make. In order to grow healthy plants, the soil must contain the right nutrients in the right percentage. While there are many important trace elements, there are three main, and three lesser essential minerals.
    Nitrogen is the most important because it is such a main element of plants themselves. Healthy green leaves and stem growth indicate good nitrogen levels, while sickly yellow indicates deficiency, which is my problem here, or one of them. Nitrogen easily leaches, or leaves the soil as a gas. Constant flooding has robbed my soil of most nutrients, plus the toxic heavy metals being sprayed on us day in and day out. Add to that the local farmers that use Monsanto's poisons, which drift onto my organic farm and the situation becomes dire indeed, despite my constant composting. As I said earlier, the organic peat moss I've been spreading has finally improved the soil in the greenhouse (peat is not the same as peat moss). And the fact that we finally had a year with closer to "normal" rainfall, the nutrients stayed in the soil.
    Phosphorus is important for cell division and growth and healthy root systems. It does not leach like nitrogen. Potassium is necessary for the production of chlorophyll, strengthens plant tissue and aids in disease resistance. I have buckets of potash in the greenhouse that I sprinkle on my plants, which provides potassium, but too much can also kill the plants, or prevent germination.
    The three lesser main elements are sulfur, which enables protein production. Calcium is needed for strong cell walls. It can be added to the soil through application of lime to adjust the pH balance. Chlorophyll is the "green" in green plants and is necessary for photosynthesis. Magnesium is the mineral found in chlorophyll.
    Campbell discusses disease, making the point that pathogens are found everywhere, but it is only when too many of them band together that disease appears. He says "Mother Nature" keeps things in balance. Well, maybe. At one time she did.
    And last, he discusses soil amendments to solve problems, spending a number of paragraphs on earthworms and the wonderworks they perform. They produce castings (poop) equal to their weight every day, eating their way through the soil and grinding it through their gizzards! I did NOT know earthworms have gizzards!! I love my earthworms, and have them in abundance. I really should begin photographing these honored citizens of my farm to give them recognition. In this section, he also provides a listing of "Possible Soil Conditioners," which I have scanned and posted below, but I do have to say, many of these are extremely questionable, and I have read other sources that absolutely say they should not even be added to compost. Like dust from vacuum sweepers, which can contain toxins, sewage sludge, (Oh, my!). There are instances where it would be usable, but I would never put fresh sewage anywhere except in a septic tank where it belongs! Packing materials! I'd be real careful on that one. And even weeds and some plants would be undesirable to compost. Sunflower roots contain an element that prevents germination, and squash plants that are done producing get thrown in the burn pile because they can overwinter disease. Certainly any diseased plant should not be composted. Campbell also makes the point that adding lime to your soil acts as a chelator to rid the soil of aluminum and iron. Hmm. Back in 1978 he knew that.
    So, there we are. I hope everyone learned something. If you have a specific question about soil, you may contact me and I will try to help.

Possible Soil Conditioners

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