Sunday, April 17, 2016

What I Learned At Soil School 2016

Did you know that:
  • There are 1 billion organisms in every pinch of soil?
  • There are 22 thousand different soil types?
  • Mollisols are the most productive soil on the planet? 
  • Legumes like fava beans are nitrogen fixing for the soil and are a great cover crop if you need that nutrient? 
  • Like your veggie garden you should rotate cover crops too? 
  • Some slugs and snails pollinate some plants? 
  • Slug/snail slime absorbs 40-100 times its volume in water and therefore the best way to get it off your skin is actually using dirt? 
  • 90% of flowering plant reproduction depends upon pollinators?
  • There are over 4000 different species of native bees, 600-800 live in Oregon? 
  • 70% native bees nest in the ground and need bare dirt? 
  • Native plants are 4 times more likely to attract pollinators? 
  • The best worms to use for vermicompost and a worm bin is the red wiggler or Eisenia fetida? 
  • The ideal conditions for the worms in vermiculture is keeping them in a shallow bin with air holes and drainage holes in 59-77 degree temperature, 75% moisture, slightly acid PH, lots of oxygen, grit for their digestion, and their favorite compostable foods added?

I learned all this and more at Soil School, which is offered every year in Portland Oregon for farmers with small farms, landscapers, gardeners, grounds managers and anyone else who wants to improve their soil. I learned about it through my Master Gardeners Program. It is a jam packed learning day with a complimentary breakfast, snacks, and lunch. It costs $30 for a single person and $50 for two people.

This year it was held at the Portland Community College Rock Creek Event Center on April 16th, 2016 from 8am-3:30pm. My husband and I signed up. We all where treated to the "not to be missed" key note speaker, James "Dr. Soil" Cassidy who taught all about, yes you guessed it, SOIL! Then we broke up into our various classes of which we had to pick 4 each out of the 12 offered.

I took Using Cover Crops, Slugs & Snails, Planting for Pollinators, and Vermiculture. My husband, Brian, took Soil Testing & Analysis, Irrigation, Invasive Weed I.D. and Organic Weed Control. Then after we compared notes and I brought home a lot of printed information, a lawn sign and some other cool swag. We had a lot of fun and learned a bunch! Brian also won a door prize at the end which was a boot brush and scraper combo! We can definitely use that on our farm!

Classes and Speakers: 
  • Key Note, Soil Structure/Composition/Test Analysis: James "Dr. Soil" Cassidy (OSU Soil Instructor)
  • Soil Testing & Analysis, Landscaping with Native Plants: Weston Miller (OSU Extension)
  • Using Cover Crops: Kim Galland (NRCS)
  • Organic Weed Control, Lawn Conversion: Mary Logalbo (West Multnomah  SWCD)
  • Stormwater Management: Clair Klock (Clackamas SWCD)
  • Composting/Organic Matter: Dave Alba, PNW Organic Land Care Coalition
  • Slugs & Snails: Claudia Groth, OSU Master Gardener
  • Planting For Pollinators: Kammy Kern-Korot, West Multnomah  SWCD
  • Irrigation: Dean Moberg  (NRCS)
  • Vermiculture: Glen Andresen (Metro Area Master Gardener)
  • Invasive Weed I.D.: Rob Emanuel, (Clean Water Services)


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