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How To Prepare For Mulching

Mulching often seems like a simple task. Most people think that all they need to do is get the shovel or open the bag, spread it around and that is it. If you fail to take the time to mulch properly, you can easily get frustrated due to numerous weeds and lifeless plants. The mulch can also lose its luster and needs replacement more than once annually.

mulch-1Preparing your landscape before mulching not only makes it beautiful but it also aids with weeds, improves the soil moisture, aeration and temperature. It also protects the bases of your trees and can even prevent some diseases that can affect your plants. Here are some steps you can follow when preparing to mulch your beds.

  • Cut the Landscape Bed

When you cut the landscape bed, the mulch does not spread quickly to the grass. As a result, it looks beautiful, not messy and does not make the soil spread or become loose from the bed. You can use a shovel with flat edges for this task and just cut down roughly six inches around the edge of your area.

  • Weed

Although it may not be your favorite task, it is essential to weed the whole area you want to mulch. Mulching prevents weeds from developing as it blocks sunlight. However, mature weeds can still ram through the mulch with no exposure to the sunlight. Ensure you clear the area of weeds and do so by pulling them out by the roots.


  • Cover or Spray

To ensure that there will be no weeds in the future put the landscape fabric on the area you want to mulch. The fabric is simple to use, and it takes a short period to lay out and cut. An alternative technique can be to spray the area with weed control but ensure you read the directions well so that you do not contaminate the plants and flowers you already have.

  • Determine the Amount of Mulch

You can do calculations using the mulch calculators to know how thick the mulch ought to be and, in turn, know the amount to buy.


  • Know Your Mulch

It is essential to know the basics of mulches before you start using them. Figure out which mulch suits your landscaping needs best. Learn more about the types of mulches at Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute online.

  • Spread Your Mulch

Whether you bought the mulch in bags or made it yourself, you now need to spread the bags in the area where you want to mulch. You can use a rake or hands to spread the mulch evenly and enjoy your landscaping.

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How Does Compost Help the Environment?

It is no secret that staunch environmentalists love talking about compost and its various benefits to the environment. Take a look at these reasons why composting is a significant factor for sustainability.

  • Helps Landfills

Using compost keeps the vegetable materials out of landfills. Composting not only keeps landfills from rashly filling up but it also reduces the pollution they create. Plant matter does not decay well when put in landfills as the numerous layers burying the vegetable matter builds an anaerobic environment. Such an environment leads to the production of methane, a gas more powerful than carbon dioxide, during the decay process. Composting, therefore, reduces the contribution of landfills to the climate change.


  • Feeds the Soil

When you compost food waste and use it in gardens and fields, you return the nutrients to the soil bank that gives food to us.

  • Improves the Soil

Compost benefits the soil is many ways. It aids in loosening the compaction of heavy soils and also helps sandy soils in trapping and holding water. When you mix compost with soil, it acts like a sponge and holds water where the roots mostly need it. In doing so, it lessens the amount of irrigation a crop requires. Additionally composting puts in nutrients and encourages the growth of useful microorganisms, earthworms and insects. Compost makes significant contributions to the health of the soil and enhances the chance of plant success.

  • Minimizes Chemicals

When you spread compost on the crop, you reduce the necessity for any other chemical fertilizers. Compost offers the basic nutrients that chemical fertilizers supply. It has an added advantage in that it has a wide assortment of trace minerals and other nutrients that chemical fertilizers do not have.  Little or no use of chemical fertilizers lessens any environmental problems that arise from their use such as water pollution. Nitrogen from the chemical fertilizers also leads to algae blooms in oceans and lakes and hence alters the coastal ecosystem. The fertilizers also percolate into the underground water and contaminate the drinking water wells.

  • Composting Reduces Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Home compost is superior other composting commercial methods.  These methods use machinery that relies on oil and sped-up methods of oxidizing organic matter at high heat so that it breaks down fast. There is no fungal decomposition involved in the process. As a result, the machinery causes harm to the environment due to the fumes they emit. Although composting is slow, you are sure that the fungi and bacteria break down all the materials.

You can learn more about the environmental benefits of compost at the Open Permaculture School and or to visit Regenerative Leadership Institute.

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The Pros and Cons of Permaculture Versus Conventional Food Production


Permaculture should be considered as a sustainable food production system – a completely new way to plan ‘food production’ . Cuba is a good example of where they use permaculture to produce food in a low carbon manner with almost no input nor transport and heavy equipments, as we advice on Regenerative Leadership Institute Permaculture. Employment was created , and the principle of working with nature was  applied by rehabilitating and using the many environmental service. As a result, Cubans produced healthy food that had no external costs. The documentary the power of community : How cuba survived peak oil , was shown to give a background on how cuba addressed its socio-economics challenges and agriculture in general, after the withdrawal of oil and aid from the soviet union . To achieve sustainable economic development , it is vital to work with the community and work with the environment instead of fighting with the forces of nature.

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The early adoption of low carbon growth path can create competitive advantages of countries taking cognisance of the effect of climate change and environmental pollution . Hence the need for a low carbon vision in SA is needed to inform a revised climate change white paper . The white paper on climate change presents the south African governments vision for an effective climate change response.

The two main objectives of white paper are :

  • To effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustains SA’s social , economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity
  • To make fair contribution to the global effort to destabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in a atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system  within a time frame that enables economic ,social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner .

Although it is widely agreed that a low carbon vision should inform decisions within the agriculture sector , it has been argued that due to lack of information and clear articulation of this low carbon vision to farmers and most government departments , the dream of low carbon agriculture forever remains just a wish .Low carbon farming not only supports sustainable farming , but recognizes the small scale labour intensive agriculture techniques and model could reserve the present decrease in agricultural job, contribute to empowerment , promote food security , conserve soil quality and, structure and contribute to biodiversity. Developing sustainable agriculture is a necessary part of creating a sustainable society .

The vision of new sustainable development paradigm should involve and secure buy-in of all relevant local stakeholders recognize and deal with current threats. And articulate an alternative development path. Government’s new climate change response white paper does not adequately confront the need for a low carbon agricultural sector. Agricultural development strategies should promote the localization of food production, recognize the negative environmental impacts of monoculture, develop conservation agriculture and permaculture production, require responsible producers to be accountable to local customers, ban genetically modified organism’s that kill biodiversity and producer resilience and last but not least secure land for small scale agriculture.



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Degradation of Soil

   Soil degradation is an old issue that is becoming bigger with every passing year. And it is not a process that started few years ago, it is a process that goes back through our history. There are few things that can be classified as degradation in quality of the soil. Decline in biological, chemical and physical properties are things that determine the loss of the quality of the soil. Transport of the soil from its original place and erosion are both also considered as factors of soil degradation.

   Erosion makes soil move, away, and this causes in fewer layers of soil on certain place. Not every bit of land around you is good for growing, and soil on top may be good, but soil from few feet under is not. But I want to focus on other forms of soil degradation, decline in properties of the soil is what I want to discuss.

   First you should understand what leads to soil degradation considering the theme we are discussing. Well the removal of plants, and constant ploughing and over-grazing are some of the factors that cause soil degradation. Let me explain. Plants protect soil from other elements and prevents large loss of carbon in the soil. Remove plants and there is nothing to stop that loss. Constant ploughing that loss makes bigger. And by removing layer of plants from the soil their roots are removed too, so their purpose as organic food for the enrichment of the soil disappears.

     So the loss of carbon is the major factor of soil degradation. In this time 2 percent of carbon in a soil is deemed enough and that is the bottom line after which soil degradation ensues. Some claimed that Australia always had a bad soil with low levels of carbon. But in research it was discovered that once their soil had up to 37 percent of carbon. With that and few other facts we can say that soil degradation in Australia began with first white man.

   That is a fact, but I don’t have time to talk lengthy about that because I want to tell you about recovery of the land that is degraded to the point that it has under 10 percent of carbon. There are a lot of articles written about soil healing, you can search for specific information by reading some works from Vladislav Davidzon or some other permaculturists. I say permaculturists because they are already doing soil recovery within their permaculture systems, and their principles can be used in soil recovery on bigger surfaces. You can also join this movement by getting permaculture design certificate.

   Well the main reason for carbon loss and soil degradation is removal of plant life, so it is logical that the first move is to grow plants on that soil. Plants that won’t be pulled out every half of a year. Then as it is done in permaculture systems mulch is the next step. Mulch is used to give plants nutrients through the soil, so by doing this soil receives things it lacked. There are few other techniques that can be used for soil recovery and one that is as natural as first technique is grazing fields on soil that is degraded.

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Permaculture and Regenerative Leadership Institute

            Permaculture is a complex system of codes and principles that is focused on achieving the best possible connection with nature and applying natural designs and patterns into everyday lives of humans. Basic idea behind this system is to produce sustainable ecosystems, which would require only renewable resources and minimum labor, and in return give maximum results and be healthy and organic, if food is produced. However, permaculture as a concept is so elaborate that nowadays it is present in various aspects of human activities, from natural building, agriculture and gardening, to economy and social relations.

            First appearances of the actual term “permaculture” go back to 1978, when an Australian professor and his graduate student coined this term, and published a book called “Permaculture One” which is often regarded as the starting point of this movement. Their names were Bill Mollison and David Holmgren respectively, and they are often called “the founding fathers” of permaculture. Naturally, they had some role-models and major influences on their work was left by Joseph Russell Smith (an American environmentalist who was the first to use the term “permanent agriculture” in his book “Tree Crops” from 1929) and Masanobu Fukuoka (a well-known Japanese philosopher and author, who was popular due to his frequent appearances in documentaries on environment and his “do-nothing” organic farms, but also because of his lectures that he gave all over the world and a best-selling book “The One-Straw Revolution” from 1975).

            In a similar way, Mollison and Holmgren had their own students and influenced numerous experts and activists from all over the world. One of notable examples is Vladislav Davidzon, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, who had the good fortunes to learn from Mollison himself. This young businessman and nature lover already had several highly successful projects that were focused on sustainable living and usage of renewable resources (for example ThinkHost –the first web hosting company that was powered solely on renewable energy sources), but in 2004 he started his most ambitious project: Regenerative Leadership Institute.

            This design school is focused on permaculture ideas and principles, but Davidzon slightly revolutionized the way permaculture courses were held. His program has a more pragmatic aspect to it, and it also demands total immersion in nature (or as much as possible) and following permaculture principles list . In little more than a decade of active teaching, this popular Institute had more than 250,000 clients from more than 95 countries from all over the world. In 2013, Vladislav Davidzon made another big step when he decided that his courses could be available for free on the official website of Regenerative Leadership Institute. Check his LinkedIn profile.

            Topics that are discussed on the program from this Institute definitely follow the great ideas of permaculture, or the famous three tenets and twelve principles that were established back in the late 1970s by Holmgren and his professor. Renewable resources, protection of the soil, water harvesting and re-usage, recycling of waste, ecological building, economical aspects of permaculture, organic farming and similar, are all regular discussion themes “on the menu” from this Institute, and people usually leave the program feeling empowered enough to start leading healthy and fulfilled lifestyles.

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