Last weekend we had a great workshop on bioremediation, or healing contaminated soil. Our teacher, Leila Darwish was enthusiastic, entertaining and highly informative.

Friday Leila Darwishevening Leila delivered a trainload of  information on how to clean up contaminated sites, using beneficial bacteria, fantastic fungi, and popular plants. We also learned about the various kinds of contaminants we might find, including various chemicals and metals.

To a bioremediator the difference  between chemicals and metals is that chemicals can generally be transformed into benign forms, while metals cannot. Metals must be bound into the soil so that they cannot get into our food plants, or they must be removed from the soil, in some way, and safely disposed of.

It is important to know which contaminants you have in your soil, because different bacteria, fungi, and plants are needed for different contaminants. It gets tricky when you have two different metals in you soil that have opposite reactions to various remediation techniques.

Digging the new gardenOn Saturday we started a new garden at Sycamore Commons. We sheet mulched and planted some trees and berries. At the same time we learned and practiced several bioremediation techniques.

compost buildingWe built a bio-orgasmic compost pile and learned about other composting techniques, such as bokashi.

compost tea




We learned how to make super aerated compost tea, and we drenched the site with a barrel full that Ron had just made. It takes about 24 hours to make, and you have to apply it within four hours for best effect.

We learned about biochar and its various benefits to the soil. Ron demonstrated his biochar cooker.biochar



We “planted” oyster mushroom mycelium in the swale we had dug to slow the water running down the hill. We also dipped the roots of the plants in compost tea with mycorrhyzal fungus mycelium mixed in, before planting them.

swale mushroomsWe created a little garden, we learned a lot, and we had some fun! Join us for more fun, healing the Earth, at our Earth Week work party on Saturday, April 26, at 5 after

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