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The Microbe Effect

The Microbe Effect

Our infinitely expansive universe contains many principles that exist outside of the reach of our human perception. These principles are easy to skip over at times, but are often the key to the very success we strive for. The systems that exist behind the scenes are the supporting roles that make our cosmic performance possible. In order to journey into the horizon, we depend on what is beneath our feet. Microscopic interactions are responsible for visible change. As our universe is infinitely large, it is also infinitely small. Every minuscule action affects every action ahead of it. From chemical reactions to biological interactions the microcosm creates and influences the macrocosm. Conversely the macrocosm creates and influences the microcosm. Our local environments and climate set the framework for what life can exist within it down to the microscopic level. Environmental factors alter the microbial profile within that environment as well as the microbial profile of the organisms within that climate. These microbes have adapted to the local climate. The microbes that are local to your environment have a better chance at survival and multiplication.

Support your local community! We all love to support our local communities. We are all so much stronger together than separate. Keeping money local has big economic benefits for a community, but there is also science behind why we should stay local when building and nurturing our soil and gardens. At every step of soil regeneration staying local is very important. Introducing nonnative life to an area can have significant negative effects. Use local flora and fauna when mimicking native diversity. This will help rebuild any damaged portion of the ecosystem instead of altering it. Local plants will secrete enzymes locally adapted microbes are attracted to. With a large profile of enzymatic root exudates the profile of enzyme specific microbes will be larger. Diversity of local plants equals diversity of local biology. That same diversity provides food sources for local microarthropods, insects, and animal life. All of which then contribute their own nutrient rich byproducts.

Root exudates directly correlate to soil health and are used as a standard for determining soil quality. We can jumpstart this process by introducing ferments of local plants to our water. Just how local roots secrete enzymes for microbes, we can ferment a local plant to harness its enzymatic profile and mimic the exudates secreted within a rhizosphere. Fermented plant juice, a Natural farming input, is an osmotic extraction using brown sugar. The high osmotic pressure of the sugar pulls plant juices out of organic matter through diffusion. The sugar super saturates water molecules and stops the ferment from turning into alcohol or acetone. When making a fermented plant juice you can tell if you’ve supersaturated your available water by whether or not the ferment bubbles. If it does not, you have a successful collection. You can learn more about Natural farming inputs through researching Korean Natural Farming. Once your ferment is done it can be used to mimic root exudates by means of a soil drench. These ferments are best made with locally grown organic matter. The fewer hands it has touched the better, so making it from native plants around the soil you are building is best. These can be invasive plants, companion plants, cover crops or plants from your garden. Staying local is the most important part of this method. To unlock the full potential of this method use in conjunction with sources of amino acids, enzymes, and microbial inoculants.

Any input or amendment that introduces microbes is best sourced locally. Compost, earthworm castings and insect frass are all great sources of nutrients and microbial life. Compost made on site with local organic matter is about as close to biomimicry as you can get. Local microbes, insects and fungi will all be found in compost made with all the plant and animal byproducts in your local ecosystem. Make some friends and trade your compost locally for even more diversity. A great resource collected from compost is leachate. Leachate is a liquid that seeps to the bottom of a compost pile, it is a rich source of humates that can be watered into soils or be fed to your compost teas. Humates have a long list of beneficial properties and are a great food source for microorganisms. In microscopy, locating a humate is one of the first steps of identifying biology. Humates are where the party is.

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Earthworm castings are said to carry over 400 different species of beneficial bacteria. Having a worm bin on site is an invaluable asset on a farm. With high nutrient density and microbial diversity earthworm castings are an input I can’t recommend enough. One of the best parts about vermiculture is that the gut biome of worms breaks down organic matter with mesophilic microbes. Meaning that they produce less heat and carbon dioxide than traditional thermal composting, lowering our carbon footprint. Worms can eat about half their weight in food scraps a day. With some proper planning all your food and garden waste can be turned into quality plant food. Another fantastic way to ally with insects is to add a black soldier fly larvae bin to your garden. A very similar process to vermiculture These voracious little buggers will eat meat as well as organic matter. They can be fed to chickens and fish. Closing loops for pond ecosystems as well as chicken coops.

Supporting each other is the best way to support ourselves. Your neighbours healthy crop gives you the opportunity to grow a healthy crop, and keeping your crop healthy helps your neighbour’s’ crop to be healthy. Keeping our efforts locally based benefits not only ourselves but our soils and gardens. As we use local products and inputs we give them the opportunity to perform to their greatest potential. Let’s prioritize our communities’ interests by aligning them with our own, as well as aligning them with the soil’s best interests. We are all a part of the same universal elements. Everything we do to ourselves we do to our surroundings and everything we do to our neighbours we do to ourselves. Everything is intertwined, as we nurture and serve our local communities we nurture and serve ourselves. Our actions may be small but the ripples we create around us affect our surroundings on a large scale. Think of the biology in our gardens like fluttering butterfly wings. Each small variation they create affects everything around them. Subtly and beautifully we can change our surroundings with intention and attention to the microcosm beneath our feet.