HOW SOILS SUPPORT LIFE

Posted on 2 November 2016
HOW SOILS SUPPORT LIFE
Former United States President Franklin D Roosevelt said: "The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself". This is absolutely true. The soil is at the root (pun intended) of nearly everything we experience in modern day life.

Did you know that soils contribute greatly to the twenty-four recognised Ecosystem Services?

As human populations increase our demands on soils, especially for food and raw materials, are intensifying. Industrialisation and urbanisation also lead to continuing demands on soils.

"Many of these stem from the abuse of the environment. Soil buffering and transformation capacities are used to smooth out, or cover up, damage by humans." British Soil Society

Unfortunately, we are making large demands on soils to process our often toxic waste. Sewage sludge and other material from intensive livestock production units are spread over and ploughed into soils, & pesticides & herbicides from conventional agriculture are also blended within the soil matter.

What's interesting is that the microbes within the soil can incorporate these materials, rendering them harmless or even productive. Soil is even used to restore contaminated and damaged areas as a result of industry and mining. Soils cover, adsorb, detoxify and  mitigate effects of contaminants & the revegetation of these areas also assists in their replenishment.

"Rainwater runoff from roofs and asphalt can be heavy and irregular. Management of unsealed soils is important for flood reduction. Increasing human production of CO2 may be countered by managing soils to increase their organic matter content, thus storing carbon." British Soil Society

Being soil, underneath our feet, this life-giving force often goes unappreciated in today's society.

According to the British Soil Society soil is responsible for the following:

Soils provide not only the surface on which we live but also a building material

Across the world, soil has been and is still used as a primary building material from cob. Houses on the west coast of England, adobe built Pueble homes in the southwestern United States of America to rammed earth huts in Africa. One-half of the world population (~ 3 billion people) live or work in buildings constructed of soil.

Soils provide the basis of the agricultural and forestry industries

The world's population is expected to expand by 50% to more than 9 billion within the lifespan of today's children feeding all these people will rely on good soil management and care of our soil resources.

Soils can act as a giant sponge storing water and preventing flooding

Some soils can store in excess of 400 mm of rainfall in the 1st m of soil this information helps engineers control and assess flooding risk, however poor management resulting in compaction can lead to unexpected flooding.

Soils are efficient 'cleansing agents' and help protect water and air from the worst effects of many pollutants
All the water we drink will have passed through the soil, however, we need to take care that we are not exceeding the capacity of some soils to absorb and "lock away" harmful pollutants and thereby become damaged themselves.

Some soils store huge amounts of carbon

It is estimated that there are 15 gigatonnes (15 thousand million) of carbon in the world's soils three times more than in all vegetation and forests. Current climate warming may accelerate the release of soil carbon into the atmosphere therefore speeding up the climate warming process.

Soils make a substantial contribution to biodiversity

Soil provides a vital habitat for many forms of life ranging from microbes to earthworms and moles. It also provides an interface for all other forms of life.

Soil is essentially a non-renewable resource!

How to start reestablishing the world's healthy soil!

This is one of the reasons why we at UFG are so passionate about what we do! By actively taking part in restoring soils through effective composting, non-invasive farming & intelligent, living gardening, you can start to re-establish the health of the soil in your environment. By creating healthy ecological microcosms across the world, we can actively take part in restoring the world's soil health.

It could be that the humble green thumb provides the answers in the future; by conserving valuable soil microbes through organic gardening, these populations may be a source of widespread medicine for our sick soils around the world!

Help us help you start working on the world's soil today 1300 799 568

Posted in: Gardening Tips  

GETTING GREEN TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES

Posted on 30 July 2016
GETTING GREEN TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES
after a seemingly endless summer, the cold weather is finally starting to rear its wild and woolly head.

Although Autumn is a great time to dust off your favourite merino wool jumper, slip on your uggies and shack up with a cup of tea on the couch, it is also one of the most common times for mental illness and depression to arise. Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder, ironically known as 'SAD', is a real condition.

At Urban Food Garden we know there is nothing quite like braving the elements and getting in the garden to beat the winter blues. If you're finding it hard to feel the love, follow our top tips to feeling better and brighter this Autumn.
  1. Grow your own veggies: Not only does a diet filled with seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables improve your health and vitality, but growing your own saves you money, as well as giving you a sense of accomplishment.
  2. Get outside: In Australia we are lucky enough to experience bursts of sunshine even in our coldest winters. Getting outside for just 15 minutes a day increases serotonin levels, our happy hormone.
  3. Get grounded: Gardening creates a strong connection between the gardener and the earth. By connecting the soles of our feet or palms of our hands with the earth we are literally transferring electrons from the ground to our bodies. Benefits include reduction in stress, improved sleep and increased health and vitality cool huh?
  4. Move your body: Carting wheelbarrows, lifting bags of potting mix and digging can be physically demanding. Exerting energy through a therapeutic activity like gardening helps to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass.
  5. Nurture: By giving our attention to nurture plants and seeds into flourishing crops of fruit and veg or beautiful flowers, we receive a feeling of being needed, increasing our self worth.

To find out more about how you can nurture your own Urban Food Garden this winter, call us 1300 799 568.

Posted in: Gardening Tips  

MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL FRUIT

Posted on 30 June 2016
MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL FRUIT
In South Australia we are currently welcoming the sweet and zesty flavours of Winter with an abundance of citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits cropping up on frivolous fruit trees (and if your a few weeks short of an orange, your neighbours are sure to be hoarding enough to share).

Now, for all you overachieving fruit bearers who are still holding their weight in sweet and spicy Autumn fruits and already showing off their winter yield- this one is for you.

THE OFFLOAD Sharing is caring, and we all know that the gift of giving is better than receiving. So one way to get rid of those old Coles plastic bags is to fill em up with delicious fruits fresh from your tree and share them with your friends, families and work colleagues.

THE JAM SESH Once you've managed to offload enough fruit to make previously mentioned neighbours, friends, and work colleagues hide behind their fences, doors, work desks when they see you waltzing towards them with aforementioned Coles bag it's time to get creative in the kitchen. Making jam is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to preserve those sweet seasonal memories in one neat little package. Get creative by fusing unusual flavours and spices. Stored in jars, it makes a wonderful gift, while paired with freshly baked bread, jam makes the perfect accompaniment to a cosy cuppa in bed on a wild Winter morning.

THE DEHYDRATION STATION Whether you're lucky enough to own a fancy five-tray dehydrator or are simply using an oven, dehydrating excess fruit is a great way to get extra mileage from your crops. Top your porridge with dried berries, figs and grapes, or eat them by the handful for a quick and easy go-to snack.

To get your creative juices flowing try this ridiculously delicious recipe for Fig and Walnut Jam with a Lavender and Thyme twist from one of our favourite one-stop recipe spots, My New Roots.

Autumn Fig Jam with Lavender, Thyme, and Walnuts

Ingredients:
900g figs
4 thyme branches
1 tsp. dried lavender, plucked from stem
pinch of sea salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup shelled walnuts, chopped

Directions:
1. Remove hard stems from figs, rinse off dust, and then chop them into small pieces, leaving the skins on.
2. Place figs in a heavy non-corroding saucepan with the thyme, lavender blossoms, sea salt, and honey. Gradually heat; then simmer until the jam is thickened, well flavoured, and the pieces are broken down (cook time will depend greatly on the water content of your figs).
3. Stir in walnuts and cook another 5 minutes.
4. Pour jam into sterilised jar and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or process according to whatever canning method you're using.
Posted in: Gardening Tips  

WINTER WARMERS: PUMPKIN, CARROT + GINGER SOUP

Posted on 16 June 2016
WINTER WARMERS: PUMPKIN, CARROT + GINGER SOUP
Ahh, old faithfuls... We love em. Levis 501's, Ugg boots, Earl Gray tea and of course a good old fashioned bowl of pumpkin soup.

A comfort zone is exactly that- comfortable. And don't get me wrong, it's a nice place to be from time to time. But sometimes you leave that warm, cosy place and your socks really get rocked right ofUgg boots and all. And that my friends is exactly what this next recipe will do.

Whilst curled up on the couch in the above comfort kit Levis and Ugg Boots, armed with Earl Gray tea in one hand and couch favourite Better Homes and Gardens June magazine in the other we came face to face with a game changer.

Boosted with zingy immune enhancing ginger, protein filled lentils and a sweet carrot twist, this version of the faithful favourite pumpkin soup recipe really ups the ante.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you (with lack of a better name)

Pumpkin, carrot, lentil and ginger soup

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 55 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 brown onion, cut into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
4 carrots, halved lengthways, roughly chopped
6 dutch carrots, trimmed, fronds reserved
300g Kent pumpkin, seeded, peeled, cut into 3cm chunks
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to season
1 cup dried red lentils
1.5L vegetable stock
8 sprigs thyme
1½ tsp finely grated ginger
Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
Dry-roasted natural almonds, roughly chopped, to serve

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Put onion, garlic, all carrots and pumpkin on a large oven tray. Add oil and turmeric and season. Toss well to coat. Roast for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Set aside dutch carrots on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Transfer remaining roast vegetables to a large, heavy based saucepan. Add lentils, stock, thyme and ginger. Cover with a lid and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove lid and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Puree.

3. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Top with a dollop of yoghurt, dutch carrots, almonds and reserved carrot fronds. Season and serve.

So there you have it folks- a successful update on a classic favourite that would make your grandma proud!

If you want to know how you can turn your garden into a fine tuned pumpkin popping machine to rival even Cinderella drop us a line 1300 799  568, we'd love to hear from you!

** original recipe can be found in the June edition of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine Australia

Posted in: Recipe  

WINTER VEGGIES PART 2 - WHAT TO PLANT

Posted on 2 June 2016
Two days into Winter, and there's no doubt about it, the season is well and truly upon us. If you were pro activate through Autumn, at the moment you'll find yourself reaping the rewards of Winter's first harvest.

Alas, never fear if your patch is looking more pruned and plain than primped and plump, there's still time to get planting for a flourishing Winter harvest.

As Australia's Winter temperatures can vary greatly from fine to frosty it is important to note your growing zone and plant accordingly.

All Zones

Broad beans, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, garlic, raddish, mint

TEMPERATE Adelaide, Coastal NSW, Perth

Broccoli, cabbage, chives, peas, spinach, Chinese greens

COLD Melbourne, Tasmania, Canberra + cool highlands

Cauliflower, brussel sprouts, leek, onion

WARM- South East QLD + Northern NSW

spinach, lettuce, dill, celery, beetroot, carrot

TROPICAL Northern Territory, North Queensland + Western Australia

Basil, capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, peas, tomatoes

Looking to get started? Call us on 1300 799 568

Posted in: Gardening Tips  

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