…The Soil Biology Primer represents a new era in our agency’s soil science contributions to natural resource conservation. In the past we have focused primarily on the chemical and physical properties of soil . This publication highlights another integral component of soil , its biological features. The Primer explains the importance of biological functions for productive and healthy agricultural systems , range lands, and forest lands.

The Soil Biology Primer is intended for farmers, ranchers, agricultural profes sionals, resource specialists , students, teachers, and NRCS conservationists, specialists , and soil scientists as a reference for enhanced understanding of the critical functions performed by soil life. I hope you enjoy reading about the fascinating diversity of soil life under our feet and gain a deeper appreciation of the intrinsic value of soil organisms to sustainable civilizations . Protecting our Nation’s soil for future generations is of greatest importance.

ENJOY click to read, explore, learn, download……


Soil. It’s our greatest treasure.

It can take hundreds of years and many natural processes to make even a centimetre of soil. The mechanical and chemical weathering of rock makes up around half of any soil’s composition, with around 5% supplied by organic material, and the rest made up by air and water.

Put another way, soil is a complicated mix of both the non-organic, abiotic components- minerals, water and air, and the organic biotic components- bacteria, archaea, fungi, plants and invertebrates that live and die within it.

In addition, and bound together with any basic discussion about soil, is the reality of a living soil, the soil food web and soil biodiversity. Soil is a complex, sustainable and dynamic ecosystem, sustained through the complicated interaction of countless soil fauna like worms, woodlice, springtails, nematodes and mites, together with fungi and bacteria.

“Despite all our achievements, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”

However, within a few generations, we have seen the world’s soils rapidly and increasingly degrade, losing nutrients, carbon and fertility, turning saline or actually blowing away. Crops are losing yield and not responding to NPK fertilisers. Fields and farms are being abandoned across much of the world, forcing even more poverty, suffering and human migration. This degrading is mostly human-driven, due to bad farming practices, pollution, acidification, compaction, deforestation and climate change across the world. It’s a sobering and worrying time. Soil biodiversity is dying, with soil fauna like springtails and soil mites reducing to almost zero. Worms are disappearing, fungal activity ceasing.

Soil scientists and farmers are finally being listened to.   People are learning and gaining more knowledge and understanding.  Research is now well funded and positive changes are being discussed at a governmental level and implemented on a regional and local level. Sustaining, improving and increasing soils is a lengthy and time consuming process, but no dig, microbe compost making and regenerative agriculture are showing great results. Feeding the soil rather than the plant has become a well known mantra amongst gardeners and organic growers. The ship may be sinking, but all is not lost.

Whoever you are and whoever you will become, tread lightly on the earth.”

Fider cider is one of those grandmother alchemies that sat on the kitchen counter and was administered (as a treat) to the children.  It is a prime example of the people’s medicine.  It is a modern cousin of Thieves Oil that reported wiped out and warded off the plaque.   It is a full medicine for the body’s systems.

Yes, it tastes great; hot, sour, pungent and sweet.  It is a warming tonic that soothes.   The natural way of our body is a most complex and magical functioning.    It knows what to do to keep us in homeostasis.  This blend is just to give it the fuel required.    It is not a medicine as much as it is a magical food.

The base is fermented for 8 weeks in my homebrew of Apple Cider Vinegar.  The characters include ginger, garlic, onion,  turmeric, horseradish, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cayenne, lemons and oranges, dandelion and burdock root.   All except the ginger and onions have been harvested from the land of the Purple Carrot Club.   

For special purpose, I added the essential oils and hydrosol of pine needle tips, coffee berries and star anise which was  made in my apothecary.     The fruit from coffee bean that has been fermented to release it’s antioxidant power and honey in its’ pure and unpasteurized state.  

This is a tonic to keep you healthy and hearty.   It is a protection and a rebuilder.  This blend considers the plagues affecting us today.

The participants benefits:

Apple Cider Vinegar — a digestive aid that fights bacteria and viruses.

Horseradish — helps alleviate sinus congestion and headaches and cleanses the colon

Ginger — helps with digestion, infections and nausea.

Garlic —has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.   Allicin (the smell of garlic), helps regulate cell death.

Onion — has similar properties to garlic but is also great for preventing (or recovering from!) colds and the flu.

Lemon and Orange Peels – Vitamin C, immune system

Coffee Berry Essential Oil and Hydrosol – a powerful antioxidant and another source fo vitamin C

Cayenne Pepper — helps move blood through your cardiovascular system. Blood circulation = healing.

Raw Honey — soothes inflamed tissues, suppresses cough, anti-bacterial.

Pine Needles and Star Anise (I talk about this in this article in depth)

Dandelion and Burdock Root  Blood cleansers and fortifiers.  Friends of the liver  

 This tonic is great as a salad dressing, a marinade or added to other fermentations.  You can drink it plain, use it in cooking, or mix with water, seltzer, juice, or tea.   

This is a fun elixir to make with many of the products coming from the purple carrot land.   

Eight week Ferment of Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Horseradish, Onion, Lemon and Orange Peels, Thyme, Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper, Oregano blended with Pure Honey, Essential OIl and Hydrosol of Pine Needle Tips, Star Anise, Cherries of Coffee (berries), Tincture of Dandelion and Burdock Root 

A maintenance dose is 1 tsp with every big meal (2 x daily).   For increased immune response double or triple as you body suggests.   Shake well before use.   

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The plebeians and the army drank the posca, a drink despised by the upper class. The posca was made from acetum which was a low quality wine that almost tasted like vinegar. Sometimes wine that got spoiled (because it was not properly stored) would also be used to make this Roman drink.

Posca was made by watering down the low quality wine and by adding herbs and spices. It was drunk from the 300-200 BCE and into the Byzantine period (in the Byzantine army the drink was actually called the phouska). Recent studies have shown that posca was actually quite healthy. It was full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, the coriander seeds had health benefits, and because it was quite acid (giving it its sour vinegar taste), it killed all the bacteria in the water, bearing in mind that water back then was not clean like our faucet water is today (or at least is in most western countries).

As we previously pointed out, posca was the drink of the common people and the upper class looked down on it. It was also the standard drink in the army. Drinking quality wine was considered impertinent in the military and sometimes standard wine was totally banned from army camps in the provinces.

Roman posca recipe
We don’t know how posca was exactly made but based on what we know, it can be recreated and the recipe is as follows:
Posca recipe
1.5 cups of red wine vinegar.
0.5 cups of honey.
1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seed.
4 cups of water.
Boil it so that the honey disolves.
Let it cool down so that it reaches room temperature.
Filter the coriander seeds.

Your posca is ready to be served. You can get a taste of what the standard drink of the average Roman was like!