From Natural News, March 20, 2015 by: Lance Johnson
Turn over a brick or a board that has been lying in the yard for a while and underneath you may find a collection of pill bugs scurrying about. Also known as “rollie pollies” or woodlice, these grey-colored creatures can be found in many dark, moist environments feeding on decaying matter. What’s interesting about these critters is that they are not bugs at all. They are crustaceans and more closely resemble crabs and shrimp, not insects. They are characterized by their ability to roll up into a ball when they feel threatened. Another unique feature is that they have seven pairs of legs. They also act like kangaroos, toting their eggs around with them in a special pouch called a marsupium, located on the pillbug’s underside. Even stranger, they don’t urinate. Instead, they exchange gases through gill-like structures.
Breeding or collecting pill bugs may be an important practice for homesteading and gardening. The guts of these pill bugs contain a number of microbes that help the critter feed on dead, organic matter. By releasing mass quantities of pill bugs into a mature garden, one can be assured that dead plant matter is being properly broken down and returned to healthy soil. Pill bugs literally speed up the process of decomposition. They circulate the soil. This can be very useful in composting. Treats for pill bugs include fungus and monocotyledonous leaves.
Pillbugs play an important role in the cycle of healthy plant life. They return organic matter to the soil so it can be digested further by fungi, protozoans and bacteria. This process produces a natural supply of nitrates, phosphates and other vital nutrients that plants need to thrive now and in future growing seasons. It is important not to introduce pill bugs into the garden too early, as they tend to munch on emerging plants. The grey soil workers often live up to three years.
One very unique quality that these crustaceans possess is their ability to safely remove heavy metals from soil. For this reason, they are an important tool for cleaning up soil contaminated with pollutants like lead, cadmium and arsenic. In coal spoils and slag heaps, pill bugs come in handy. They take in heavy metals like lead and cadmium and crystallize these ions in their guts. The heavy metal toxins are then made into spherical deposits in the mid gut. With this special cleanup property, pill bugs survive where most creatures can’t, in the most contaminated sites.
The magic of the pill bugs helps reestablish healthy soil and prevents toxic metal ions from leaching into the groundwater. This means pill bugs are also protecting well water from becoming contaminated while stabilizing soils.
Here’s a great idea for reusing toilet tissue tubes! Plant pots!
Executive Session: 02/19/2019 1:30 pm Legislative Office Building 303!
We need people to continue to contact the Committee and urge them to protect our amazing essential pollinators by urging them to vote YES on HB646 “The Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act”
🐝 Sign and share the petition https://www.change.org/p/vote-yes-on-hb646-to-protect-our-p…
🐝 Email the Environment and Agriculture Committee https://www.facebook.com/notes/non-toxic-new-hampshire/contact-the-house-environment-and-agriculture-commitee/1011231355740860/
🐝 Read more about the bill here: https://bit.ly/2BumItF
The Soil Series: Grassroots for the Climate Emergency
Bethany Church, Randolph,
Wednesdays 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Calling all land managers, farmers, gardeners, seed savers, citizen scientists, conservationists, town planners, educators, healers, and advocates, join us for a series of critical conversations about soil health and how we can become response-able to meet the climate emergency. There will be great food provided, powerful panel dialogues guided by VHSC members, audience discussion on topics of food, soil, water, health, climate and hope. Together, we can explore what is possible in rehabilitating soil health to hold our landscapes and communities together. This potent six-part series takes place on Wednesdays starting Feb. 27 at the Bethany Church in Randolph. Suggested donation $5 (donations not necessary). Each program features a social half-hour with food provided by Black Krim Tavern, Randolph.
A collaboration between Building A Local Economy (BALE) and Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition (VHSC)
For details on individual events, visit www.vermonthealthysoilscoalition.org
Many of the changes we humans have made to our planet are obvious, but some are not; soil pollution can be invisible. When we began Canillas Community Garden ten years ago, we had no idea the soil was contaminated with lead (which is why we had to build raised beds and purchase healthy soil.) “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution” campaign for World Soil Day 2018 aims to raise awareness and call people to #StopSoilPollution.
Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but this capacity is finite. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmentally-friendly practices. As technology evolves, scientists are able to identify previously undetected pollutants, but at the same time some technological” improvements” lead to new contaminants being released into the environment.
Canillas Community Garden is an organic garden. We do not want pesticides in our food, in our soil, in our air, nor in our water. (NH law prohibits the use of pesticides within 50 feet of the Mascoma River.) To enhance the soil in our gardens we have set a number of guidelines and have made an effort to increase the health and carbon sponge-ability of our soil:
• Soil life is hard at work building underground structures that make life on land possible. We try not to disturb those underground structures with tillage.
• Soil life needs protection from heat, pounding rain, and wind. We keep soil covered year-round with shredded leaves and periodically add compost. (Thanks to Lebanon Public Works for delivering unsprayed shredded leaves from Colburn Park!)
• A diverse system is more resilient than a monoculture. We plant a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and flowers to increase diversity in soil microorganisms, beneficial insects, and other species.
• Like any other living system, soil ecology will succumb to overwhelming stresses (such as excessive use of biocides, and compaction,) We are an organic garden and minimize chemical, physical, and biological stresses and have been working to protect our soil from pesticides used in our surrounding environment.
• A healthy landscape stores and filters water, cools the surrounding atmosphere, creates mist and clouds, and prevents flooding and drought. We try to keep the big picture in mind.
Each of us can do something to protect our soils.
*We can work to reduce toxins in our own lives and in our community.
*We can support farmers who use sustainable, regenerative methods.
* We can mow lawns less frequently, forego chemicals, and plant with pollinators, birds, and other creatures, and the “big picture” in mind..
* We can pick up plastic litter which breaks down into micro-particles in the air, soil, water, and our bodies.
*We each can play a role in reducing single-use plastics in our lives. Read more on the plastic issue at https://noplasticpollution.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/plastics-turning-up-in-organic-fertilizer-from-food-waste/
We are grateful to our good neighbor, Lebanon Recreation & Parks Facilities Manager Doug McGrath, for his help in dealing with the many piles of shredded leaves delivered by Leb Public Works. The hugelkultur and the perennial beds are now blanketed with shredded leaves, the tomato cages have been stored, and the garden put to bed.