Nicole Masters from Integrity Soils is here today!
Hey There! Green future growers. Thanks for joining us today. If you're new to the show, I hope you'll subscribe on iTunes or your favorite Android app and let's get growing!
Jackie Marie Beyer (19s):
Welcome to the Green Organic Garden Podcast! It is Friday, July 3rd, 2020. And I have one of the most awesome guests ever to come on the show. She was recommended by Robin Kelson and Patti Armbrister. Robin actually went all the way to New Zealand to work with her!
Jackie Marie Beyer (1m 11s):
She is a soil expert and she is here to talk to us. She wrote a book for the love of Soil Strategies to Regenerate Our Food Production Systems. You might've even read it already. And now you're going to hear from the master herself, Nicole Masters. So welcome to the show Nicole!
Nicole Masters (1m 28s):
Thanks for having me, Jackie, that's like the best introduction lead in of all time. Yeah. I really appreciate being here. Thank you.
That's what I call like golden nuggets of value bombs. You're where people say on other podcasters. I just know, like I told you in the email Soil health is without a doubt, the key to my show and show. And then Patti Armbrister has her own little fan club, like one of my, like I'm the president. And like, they just love her.
And she was like, how come you haven't had Nicole Masters on your show yet? I'm like, what did happen with that? And I guess I never sent you the email show. I meant you last year when I first heard about you and I dropped the ball.
Jackie Marie Beyer (2m 13s):
So thank you so much. And go ahead and tell listeners about yourself. Like what time is it where you are? You're in New Zealand, right?
Nicole Masters (2m 20s):
No way when COVID hit, I got on a plane and I got to Montana. So right now I'm in Idaho.
Jackie Marie Beyer (-): You did?
Nicole Masters (2m 27s):
Yeah. I have a trailer in a horse here in Montana. And so yeah, I just, yeah, just kind of really looked at what I was doing and you know, is it the site of a book tour? And you know, my schedule was pretty much the most I was staying anywhere was like three days traveling through Australia and New Zealand and Canada and, and yeah, I guess COVID hit and I was so grateful cause I was like, I need to stop. I need to reconsolidate. I need to, yeah. Just not be rushing around the planet Which I think a lot of people have that same experience. So yeah. I feel like I'm a lot more settled now.
Jackie Marie Beyer (3m 9s):
Isn't that interesting. You did not want to be in New Zealand and wanting to be in the United States for the pandemic. I mean, I guess I said repeatedly, if you have to be in it, Montana is like the best place to be. But New Zealand seem to be on top of things, like aren't, they one of the best countries,
Nicole Masters (3m 28s):
Well, they are in terms of like total lockdown and quarantine, but I don't have a house or a base in New Zealand. So I was like, where would I quarantine? Where had I totally locked life down? And if I was going to lock down, I want to be with my horse. I want to be able to be out in the mountains and, and working cows. And, and I just didn't have that set up in New Zealand.
So it seemed much more, I mean, all my friends do think I'm insane. Like, and you know, the media certainly overseas, isn't putting very good light on America, but I knew that, you know, ranching life would pretty much continue as usual, which is what's happening anyway.
Nicole Masters (4m 7s): Yeah.
Jackie Marie Beyer (4m 7s):
Fascinating. Well, I always kind of start my show asking about your very first garden experience, like on a ranch, like where, like, who are you with? What'd you grow? Where did you?
Nicole Masters (4m 21s):
I grew up, I grew up on air force bases. So my father was a pilot. I was an air force brat, but my very first earliest memories out all of gardening. So my, my father and my grandmother, you know, we always had home gardens, but my mom always tells me stories of when I first learned to crawl, she couldn't find me. And she found me in the garden with my little pinky finger inside a snail shell, eating snails, which she's teasing me about.
Nicole Masters (4m 53s):
But yeah, I mean, I just, I, you know, I used to follow my father around like a puppy dog and you know, so planting radishes and planting my own radishes probably, I don't know, it must've been three or four, you know, really, really little and eating a lot of soil.
So yeah. So I think my father was really enjoyed camping and really enjoyed, you know, being in the New Zealand Bush. And so I think, and I think in New Zealand, we don't have that big rural, urban divide that seems to exist in, and maybe we do now, but certainly growing up, you know, there were horse paddocks, cattle paddocks all around.
And I had relatives that were deer farmers and dairy farmers, and just always felt very connected to agriculture. And it wasn't till I was 24 that my father brought a farm and I went with him and we basically started from scratch planted 700 avocado trees.
Nicole Masters (6m 0s):
And yeah, it was both of us had knew nothing. I had been managing community gardens when I was 24. It was what I did when I left university was I'm very lucky to kind of strike that job. And at the same time, you know, I've been gardening for a few years and was just very lucky to have a position like that because you know, you really do get thrown in the deep end
And what was interesting with those community guidance was they were given to us, they were set up in the middle of a low socioeconomic community that didn't want them.
Nicole Masters (6m 38s):
And hadn't asked for them and didn't appreciate people basically coming into the community. So we had a lot of vandalism. We had a lot of, you know, people coming in and smashing everything up and tipping out all the seedling trays. And it was sort of some of my early thinking around you don't force change on people. You need to engage with communities. You need to invite and bring people along with you, not go, Hey, we know this is the best thing for you and we're going to have it happen. So it was an extraordinary time of learning.
Jackie Marie Beyer (7m 10s):
I was in New Zealand where you, yeah. And then, so when did you go to,
Nicole Masters (7m 21s):
I went to university for, I did an ecology degree actually wanting to be a great white Shaq researcher. But when you, you know, if you want to get into zoology or anything like that, you need to do basic cell biology.
We did botany like did conservation science did all sorts of like, I love ecology degrees in terms of so varied. And through that, I really got excited about plants. And then I really got excited about soil and it was like, I ended up majoring in soil thinking that I wanted to be a great white shark researcher, which is fascinating still because soil is just, it's the new frontier!
Nicole Masters (8m 3s):
You know, it's the more that we learn about it, the more that we learn about our own human microbiome and the connections with like how we evolved as human beings and how much of that microbiology actually comes from soil. And how much of it has to say in terms of health and wellbeing that they've developed a vaccine for PTSD, for instance, it comes from a soil bacterium. So it's like, yeah, it just never, never gets dull
Jackie Marie Beyer (8m 34s):
That's just fascinating to me.
To be honest with you. I took a lot of botany classes in college for somebody who was like a liberal arts major. Cause I liked plants and flowers. I wanted to get a job for the forest service here, going around in the forest. And like you did like these surveys of, you know, like how many wild flowers, how many trees, how many of us are that?
Jackie Marie Beyer (9m 7s):
Which I lasted all of two days after all this work to get the job. And I got lost in the woods and I was like, I'm done, There were some factors in there. I did not like fire school either. I was like, why fighting forest fires? That is so not me. Anyway. Well tell us more, tell us about your book.
Nicole Masters (9m 32s):
Yeah. So my book came about really from people. So I with our programs, so Integrity Soils is my company being basically self employed for over 20 years. We manage, we work alongside land managers that cover over 1.2 million acres. And working with these people,
I have quite a specific triage or process that I go through in my mind that actually, I didn't realize how specific it was until people started going. Well, explain how,
And so the book really goes through the triage process or the coaching process in terms of how do we identify what enabling factors are in soil and what's putting a limit to full health and production and how do we really build soil and build organic matter as quickly as possible on large landscapes as well as in home gardens.
Nicole Masters (10m 40s):
So, you know,
We work in hugely diverse environments and it it's like, well, what works well in these types of ecosystems and what works well?
You know, if you think about going from the New Zealand environment to Montana, they're almost the polar opposite. So it's, how do you diagnose in those environments and what are we looking at? So I came up with a process that I call the five M's, which is looking at what is, what is, you know, what's potentially involved in, in what we call the enabling factors.
Nicole Masters (11m 20s):
So is that your, is there
So the five M's. ,And through going through that process, we go through a diagnostic of how well is that plant photosynthesizing that's number one, you know, like if your
plants are not capturing adequate sunlight energy and converting that into everything that happens in the plant and then feeding microbiology, then the system's not going to work very well.
Nicole Masters (11m 52s):
No, that's not. The next step is before that. So before water, comes air and most people think of water because we're so connected to, if it doesn't rain or we don't have water going, you know, then you know, your garden's going to fail, but actually before that, it's actually an movement.
So the same in the human body, if you don't, you're not breathing, you're not going to last very long. If you're not able to get water, you know, maybe you'll live for three days. And if you don't have food, maybe it's three weeks.
So it goes through this process of diagnostics so that you can figure out what is it.
Nicole Masters (12m 30s):
And, yeah, so it was a pretty awesome process to go through writing the book. I use a lot of case studies and people's stories to convey sometimes what can seem very technical, but trying to keep it in a way that makes it really readable.
I didn't want people just going, Oh, this is a good reference book, or this is good technical book, or this is something we're just going to read once and then shelf, or maybe just read half of it and shelf. And I've had so many messages from people going, I've read your book four times have highlighted all of this.
Nicole Masters (13m 1s):
And they've sent me photos. And I'm like, who reads a book four times? You know, like, and just being so blown away that, that my intent, which is to kind of try and keep it very engaging, I feel like was pretty successful in the end.
Jackie Marie Beyer (13m 17s):
Yeah. I think Patty and Robin were both telling me they've also listened to the audio version several times. Yeah.
Nicole Masters (13m 23s):
So they can be fluent in New Zealand.
Jackie Marie Beyer (13m 27s):
I am a elementary educator by trade, like taught K through fourth grade for many years and, you know, rereading, rereading, rereading is something.
Nicole Masters (13m 39s):
We teach them all the time. So I don't know. I kind of get it. Yeah. Yeah. But I think people's lives are so busythese days, you know, we're lucky to kind of push anything into our heads at all. And I think that's why audio books is so powerful is, and I hadn't even realized.
I started talking to people and they're like, yeah, I listen to an audio book while I'm vacuuming or while I'm going for a run or I'm in the car. And I'm like, I didn't even realize there was this whole world of, and maybe it's you know, we're totally spinning our wheels because we haven't got any downtime to just contemplate.
Jackie Marie Beyer (14m 20s):
Well, I, you know, there's times, right? I like peace and quiet, but when I'm driving or when I'm walking, like nothing's better for me than an inspiring. I like to listen to podcasts myself being a podcaster. It's kind of how I got into it. And then I just got a job this summer working for another podcast. And I've been to like over 600 podcasts websites in the last two weeks.
Nicole Masters (14m 42s): So wow.
Jackie Marie Beyer (14m 43s):
Kind of neat. I feel like I'm connecting and making new friends again and listening to new shows. And, but also, yeah, I've been trying to get a little more quite time when I'm in the garden. Yeah. So
You know, they're the kind of people that are, you know, growing a fair amount of their own produce. Like maybe like what's the thing they be most surprised about.
And it becomes this whole world that opens up. If you start looking at your backyard or your lawn in that way of, Oh, that's really curious, you know, I actually, I'm producing the soil conditions that are perfect for these types of weeds instead of I'm producing, you know, my management is creating the perfect conditions for a lettuce or, or whatever.
So yeah, in my, you know, the last time I had a real garden, which was probably six years ago now,
you know, we create a soil environment that what grows is what I'm planting and seeing very few invasive weed species coming in at all.
Nicole Masters (17m 10s):
And if there was anything coming in, they were very soft, you know, like clovers and things. And I'm like, well, that's a pretty good understory or intercropping to be had.
I think we expect to have these very straight lines and sort of mono-cultural patches still in gardens. And I think the more we can break it up, we'll go through what I think of as the ugly hair stage, where you like just allow, you know, more chaos in the garden to try and replicate nature more.
Nicole Masters (17m 40s):
You know, that you've got a diversity of different species and maybe some of them are edible some of the medicinal or some of the air for, to attract pollinator species,
Jackie Marie Beyer (17m 50s):
But just allowing guidance to, to be more rampant and really celebrate the life instead of celebrating uniformity. I think it's one of those paradigm shifts that would be great to see more gardeners do Awesome. The Ugly Hair Stage. I like the way you talk about that. But
Nicole Masters (18m 15s):
I think, I think I'm in a lot of ways,
Jackie Marie Beyer (18m 19s):
That's definitely true. Like people are too used to saying, Oh, dandelions are ugly. We get to get rid of those dandelions. Like I've been trained to believe that dandelions are bad. So breaking that, you know, theory. And then, and that is something Patti's also talked about. Like dandelions are assigned that you're, you know, they're reaching down because of, you know, signs in the soil that it's not as healthy as it should be. Or maybe like you're saying like, you're that soil is the perfect soil for a dandelion.
Jackie Marie Beyer (18m 52s):
So if you don't want a dental and to go there, you need to change the soil. So that, it's the perfect thing for maybe more Clover. I'm always telling people, you need more Clover, you need more covert. And we've been like, one thing we realized last summer is that if we let the crossover kind of grow more and pay attention to when it goes to see like what kind of more around the Culver, it's spreading so much more in our yard and we're getting a much nicer amount of clover mixed in. We kind of have a lot of lawn at our place because it's our firebreak cause we're in a pretty forested area.
Nicole Masters (19m 26s):
Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like it's coming along then. Nice.
Jackie Marie Beyer (19m 30s):
Yeah, it has like when I look at pictures of like, when I first moved here in the early nineties and how Rocky and just like, we didn't have running water for the first six years that I lived here. And so there was no water going on the lawn, like, and then just also like Mike has added tons of like manure and compost and things too. It just it's really come a long ways. Anyway, let's get back to, well, what do you want to talk about?
Jackie Marie Beyer (20m 1s):
Do you want to talk more about, was it the 5 Ms?
Nicole Masters (20m 5s):
The five M's I think, yeah. I think really thinking of your guidance system as an ecosystem and really considering that anytime you're disturbing it. So if that is cultivation, which is, can be one of the most destructive things that we do in any environment, it becomes all right, well actually I'm going to cultivate. So how do I repair that disturbance? How do I feed that microbiological community to kind of get things up and going again?
Nicole Masters (20m 39s):
So, yeah, I'm a big fan of vermiculture. I actually started my career as a commercial composter and then teaching kids In schools and households, how to reduce waste and, and part of what I was doing with the commercial side of the vendor, composting was making a Vermicast that was specific for different needs. So growing a compost that was for gardens, for instance, so much more bacterially dominated than a product that I would produce for avocados, which is very fungal dominated.
Nicole Masters (21m 13s):
So thinking about what kind of species have I got above ground, and then how can I support that through the right or, you know, the more aligned microbial community below ground. And most people I see doing wound bins make a product that's far too bacterial. They're actually growing something that's made for weeds.
The way to tell is probably to put, like, if you've got compost of an vermicast to put it out on trays outside just in the weather and just have a look at what starts to grow on it, you know, and if you do see, you know, maybe it's lots of dandy lines or it's the souls, or it's something really invasive something like I know some kind of wandering plant species, Or do you see Clover and stuff grass is growing.
Nicole Masters (22m 2s):
You know, you really want to see the Clover and stuff, grasses as being the ones that germinate and that. And so it's a pretty good indicator for if it's very bacterial, then you're going to grow a lot of those primitive weeds, a lot of those sort of invasive, like the quack grasses, the foxtail, barley grass, the, you know, the more primitive grasses that generally we don't want to see.
They love bacterial conditions. So yeah, it becomes something to really consider. A lot of what we buy like commercially of compost is often very bacterial.
Nicole Masters (22m 36s):
And so it's working, if you are getting compostable in the cast, asking those people for a microbial test or asking them if they're even thinking about microbiology, and if they're not even thinking about microbiology, I'm probably not going to buy compost from those people. Yeah. And, and, you know, there are people in Montana that are certainly thinking about this and starting to produce their quality biological products.
Jackie Marie Beyer (23m 3s):
So how do you, like, is there a way, like if you're making your own like warm bin or vermiculture compost, like, is there a way to make it?
Nicole Masters (23m 15s):
Yeah. Yeah. So what they like to feed on is more complex stuff. So worms will survive just on vegetable scraps and manures, if that's what you're doing. But if we're going to feed more of the fungus, we need the more complex, slow to break down stuff. So not just paper, but things like wood chips, like I'm a big fan of wood chips and white wood chips.
So not spruce and pine, which is probably a lot of what people have got, but alders, cottonwoods, poplars, willows Birch beach, those kinds of species.
Nicole Masters (23m 52s):
And they just make, fungi go nuts. So I used to just stockpile wood chips like that, and maybe put a little bit of molasses or something just to get the bacteria excited as well. And to look at my Vermicast, the fungal, the vermiCAST, it would look like mostly it's wood chips, and then you dig through it and there's all the Vermicast through the wood chips. But that, that fungal dominance comes from them having those kinds of foods to feed on. And so I think the same thing with my garden is I would incorporate those wood chips.
Nicole Masters (24m 26s):
And often people are concerned that, Oh, you're gonna be robbing nitrogen from the environment if you're doing that. And what we found with those species is if you have a pile of those kinds of wood chips sitting around, have a look and you'll see right around the edge of the pilot's as the grass actually grows more vigorously that the cabins nitrogen ratio, and that's pretty tight. It's not the same as spruce or pine because those species have a very high carbon to nitrogen ratio. So the, yes, they're going to take nitrogen out of the ground, but they also have tendons and anti-microbials, so they really do nuke, which is great.
Nicole Masters (25m 2s):
If you try to emote and you don't want other species growing, then you know, those species are good for that. But if you really wanted to encourage beneficial, funky, then it's those white wood species. And also if you have a worm bin and it's making an elite shade or a liquid that's stripping through the bottom, that's automatically telling me that your systems to bacterial and you don't have enough of these carbon based materials. And I don't use the leachate. I would put that back through my worm bin if I was making any. And I know people get really excited about it, but you know, your system shouldn't make any extra liquid unless you want it to, and then you could pour water through the top.
Nicole Masters (25m 39s):
But if it's got stuff leaking through the bottom, then it's often like the byproducts of vegetable scraps or whatever you're putting in there. That's just kind of breaking down and, you know, they could be pathogens in there. And yeah, it's, it's not ideal. I know people swear by it and I'm sorry, but you're better to make a wormy liquid from finished Vermicast that's fungal dominated.
Jackie Marie Beyer (26m 2s):
Wow. And there's probably a lot of down trees like that, at least where we are, we've had big storms lately. And so I'm glad you told me that because like our wood chips that I was thinking of adding are mostly pine and large. We did have a aspen tree fall down in the big storm the other day.
Nicole Masters (26m 31s):
That's right in front of my window. Oh, absolutely. That would be lovely. Yeah. Deciduous aren't they? Yeah. They
Jackie Marie Beyer (26m 44s): Yeah they lose their needles.
Nicole Masters (26m 46s):
Oh, okay. Yeah. They're deciduous. Yeah. No, maybe not. You know, if they've got those strong smells, those are the anti-microbials so yeah, we, we don't want to use, and that's why we use it for things like in bands
with cows or calves and things is, cause that antimicrobials is that, that type of sawdust. So we don't want to be using that. We want to be encouraging microbiology.
Jackie Marie Beyer (27m 13s):
Good to know what else did you want to talk about?
Nicole Masters (27m 20s):
There's a whole world out there. Let's talk about insects. That's a crazy one. And it's a crazy one. I'm talking about bugs. Yeah. Yeah. Insects are another great topic I think for home gardeners to be thinking about. So typically, you know, if you're seeing the SAP sucking insects, they're telling you that there's an imbalance more specifically with the type of protein formation. So we call these the incomplete or funny proteins.
Nicole Masters (27m 54s):
So something's going on in that plant to make it stressed. Maybe you're trying to grow a plant in the wrong eco type or wrong time, time of the year, it's too hot or too dry, or that plant doesn't have adequate microbiology or the nutrients that it needs. So it starts to form these incomplete proteins, which basically rang the dinner bell then for insect pests. A lot of people may or may not be aware of this, but they may be using neonicotinoids. So seed treatments on their grass seeds or some of the vegetable plants that we're using.
Nicole Masters (28m 28s):
So making sure that you're using untreated seed through the writing of the book, I discovered that those neonicotinoids which really should be banned, they are part of what's causing the mad BD disease or sudden colony collapses, let alone all the other insects that are disappearing is that those neonicotinoids changed 600 genes in the plant. And some of those genes are involved in cell wall strength and disease and insect prevention. So by putting some of these seed treatments on, we actually are weakening that plant and then make it more vulnerable.
Nicole Masters (29m 2s):
So it's something to think about when you are buying seed. And especially if you're buying Robin's seeds, you'll be getting lovely untreated organic seed. So thinking about that when we're making purchases, but really insects are there to tell you that something has gone on in terms of the nutrition and the health of that plant. So there are trace elements that are linked in with nutrition and implant defense. So things like manganese and zinc and copper, and there's another boron.
Nicole Masters (29m 33s):
So making sure that we have better trace elements available to those plants. And if you are using herbicides, it's interesting, they tie up many of these important trace elements. And so you could use a herbicide maybe around the plants that you're growing. And then that ties up these trace elements and then it makes their plant more vulnerable then to an insect attack. So there's a correlation between using herbicides and the trees. And then seeing, I think you guys have these what's these caterpillars that make these huge big, like white, like spiderweb all over the trees.
Nicole Masters (30m 10s):
Do you get that in your area? We do. What are those things called? Those things anyway, we're starting to see more insect imbalances. So while we're going through an insect again, and so 75% of insects are in decline or in collapse or just disappearing. So numbers as well as diversity. And what's interesting is while these insect populations globally are collapsing, the pest six are getting more.
Nicole Masters (30m 45s):
So it's like the conditions that we're providing. And it's the same as looking at weeds, we're providing the conditions for insect pests instead of the beneficials. So for every one pest there's 1700 non-targeted insects and beneficial insects, let's say, so we need to be thinking more about how do we encourage more diversity of those insects, because they're the ones that are going to take out the bad guys. If you want to call them bad guys, they're going to provide, you know, more ecosystem services.
Nicole Masters (31m 16s):
They are providing interestingly more nitrogen to your garden system, but really thinking instead of how do I kill this actually, how do I create an environment that encourages more of these? Because that's what suppresses the insect pests. We use a lot of seed treatments that are biologically based. So I might use one that's very vermiCAST or compost making a slurry onto seeds, or actually buying some of these commercial products, like track of Derma, which so track of Derma as a type of fungus that eats disease fungi.
Nicole Masters (31m 51s):
But what it also does is it works in tandem with the plant to produce some of these plant hormones that defend it against an insect attack. So it produces something called proteinases, which is what the plant produces to defend itself when an insect starts to nibble. So some of these, the microbiology in that soil system work in tandem with the plant to provide plant defense against insects. So I quite like using things like milk, and I'm just using tiny amounts of milk, like a teaspoon of milk per square yard diluted onto leaf surfaces.
Nicole Masters (32m 25s):
If I do see some insect attack, because that will actually help to complex those amino acids or those proteins inside the leaf. And so enable that plant to be able to defend itself. So you can use any type of milk, like can be Pasteurized is fine. Not, not 2% milk, cause that's actually not milk obviously. But yeah, if you can get real milk, obviously that, you know, that'll be be fine, but the milk from the grocery store is fine. And I'm a big fan of using fulvic acid and Humic acids.
Nicole Masters (32m 58s):
So there's a soft Brown coals that we can put on as folic. Anyway, we'll put it on as a folio. That's also going to help that plant build up its immune system and its defense system against things like your chewing
insects. So yeah, again, it comes down to all right, what is this thing trying to tell me? And then how do I support optimal plant health so that
Jackie Marie Beyer (33m 19s):
I like that focusing on those things I do want instead of focusing on the thing, I don't want focusing on what, like, if you were going to put, like you could put milk on anything or like on trees or like on bushes or like on your vegetables or yeah, great.
Nicole Masters (33m 45s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. All of it, all of it and putting it on very dilute, but what it contains is a little bit of sugar, a little bit of calcium, a little bit of phosphorus and it drives lactobacillus, which is very beneficial organism that most people are familiar with because it's what you take as a probiotic for our own health. So lactobacillus is in the atmosphere and the minute you put milk out onto any surface, and it's a very, very beneficial probiotic for plant health trees.
Jackie Marie Beyer (34m 19s):
And don't be so stuck to your script, but as soon as I'm off my script, I'm totally just like, I never know what to say.
Nicole Masters (34m 42s):
Yeah. You need you to read the book. Then you will have a million questions. Okay. And why do you do a seed treatment? Like how do you do a seed treatment or something like that?
Nicole Masters (35m 14s):
Yeah. This is a good question. Yeah. Yeah. So it was fava beans or with peas, then you're not innoculating with the rhizobia, the bacteria that's going to help them fix nitrogen, but with seed dressings, well, even when you're transplanting plants to dip them in some of these biologicals, So like a compost extract and we can make a compost extract just by putting compost into a burlap sack and running water through it, or you can do the same thing with their vermiCAST and if you're going to go straight into the garden then you could actually, you know, you can mist that on with a sprayer or dip seed, actually enter that liquid before you, you put it out, you can also make more of a pancake slurry.
Nicole Masters (36m 5s):
So just mix that compost sodas a little bit like, you know, pancake consistency, the better. And we put in a small amount of molasses and a little bit of milk again and stir that up. So it's called Korean natural farming and you can just stir that up. And then, you know, rates depend on how much seed, obviously you're putting in. I'm trying to think. We, we do things on a tonnage basis, not a garden basis, but you know, so you don't need a lot but enough just to get that, that seed kind of really well coated.
Nicole Masters (36m 44s):
And then we're going to put that out into the garden with the seeds and what we find. And it's really interesting is that between 40 to a hundred percent of nutrition for that plant early nutrition, while its germinating comes from that microbiological relationship. So it's going to support optimal plant health. It's going to make sure that their plant is totally covered in beneficial microbiology. So as the roots go down, it's going to keep that microbiology growing. And as the leaves come out, that all going to be covered with beneficial microbes.
Nicole Masters (37m 15s):
And we we're just discovering more and more about this process and about how important this process is. One of those processes is called Rhizofaigy. So it basically means that as that root is penetrating and that root tip it's feeding microbiology, and then it absorbs those microbes takes the nutrients from them. Yeah. It's basically like feeding and then killing its beneficial companions as it grows through that, that soil environment. And those microbiology are able to access things like phosphorus and trace elements in nitrogen that the plant can't do on its own.
Nicole Masters (37m 50s):
So it's a beneficial relationship in terms of the plant is feeding the bacteria, but it's not symbiotic because they end up eating the bacteria, which is kind of cool. Yeah. And part of that process too, is you get an irritation inside that root tip and it forms more root hairs. So when we dig up plants and I really, I really encourage you to do this is to have a look at what's happening in that root zone and what you want to see as you never want to see clean naked roots. Those roots should be totally covered by what we call the wrap, the riser sheath, or I like to call the Rastafari and roots man, cause these Rastafari, they look like great big dreadlocks.
Nicole Masters (38m 30s):
And is that what your root system looks like? And that's what it should look like. So that riser sheath is all about the plants, pumping sugar and fats and all sorts of other metabolites into that root system and feeding microbiology. And in response, they're bringing the nutrients to the plants. So we see this really thickening up of the very dark and sticky substance around those roots. And what that she does is it defends the plant
from fluctuations in temperature, defends it against fluctuations in moisture.
Nicole Masters (39m 2s):
If you have a difference in pH, let's say your soil is really alkaline. Maybe it's like 8.5 or it's very acidic at like 4.5 that rhizosheath of the microbiology in there can alter the pH of that root system by as much as two. So it means instead of experiencing 8.5, it could be experiencing 6.5 or 4.5. It's experiencing 6.5 again, through this ability of that rhizosheath to buffer that environment. So we're seeing some incredible stuff in terms of Sodexo ELLs in terms of high Ellie minium soils or sorry, aluminum is that we have systems that are able to defend and buffer themselves.
Nicole Masters (39m 43s):
So the temperature becomes very buffered. So if you have naked roots, so they're all just sitting there and they don't have any rhizoshape. Then the minute a cloud comes over that plant's stressed because suddenly it's gone from hot to cold, like it'll happen automatically. Whereas if you have that protection around that root, then now that plant is able to defend itself. So I do get very excited about seeing rhizosheaths development. It's one of the indicators that your microrisal fungi, which are very important functional that your root hairs are functional and microbiology is working.
Nicole Masters (40m 18s):
So yeah, if you dig up some plants and know, so had to dig it up and just have a look and see if I got that. So the seed treatments, compost, commercial seed treatments, really help that find those rises shady minutes and show that we're growing the most top quality nutrient dense food that we can yup.
Jackie Marie Beyer (40m 58s): Like carrots?
Nicole Masters (41m 3s):
Yeah. It depends on the hardness of the seed. So, you know, if it's something like beets, I'm going to soak that probably for 24 hours, if it was, I'm trying to think little seeds, little camomile seeds, or, you know, things that yeah. Quite small and have a very fatty layer. There may be, if you can hear me, if we make the slurry we can.
Nicole Masters (41m 44s):
And the host, I don't know what happened. I don't either. I was typing in the chat, Nicole, where'd you go? And it just totally disappeared on me on the spinning wheel. And then I don't know if I got it back. I went to my calendar and rejoined the meeting. Well, it worked perfectly because you disappeared right in the gap anyway. So it kept recording. So there's nothing we need to repeat. I don't know how long you've been gone, but yeah, the recording's fine.
Jackie Marie Beyer (42m 16s):
Okay, cool. Well, do you want to do like my part that I call like the, getting to the root of things where I asked, like, do you have a least favorite activity to do in the garden? Like, is there something you have to force yourself to get out there and do, even if you're at somebody else's ranch. Yeah. Yeah. We can do that if you want to do that. Okay. So what is your least favorite activity?
Nicole Masters (42m 44s):
Sometimes? I think it's not like a least favorite. It's, it's, I'm getting motivated to do things on time, you know, in a timely fashion often, because I traveled so much when I, when I do have gardens, then it's the right. This
needs to be done at this time and I'll be traveling or whatever. And then, you know, things get weedy and, or I just, yeah, I missed the timing for that. Or suddenly I've just got this abundance of produce all at once. And I'm like, I really need to be much more of a stickler, but I think I really see myself as a gorilla gardener.
Nicole Masters (43m 19s):
So I get these massive fits of inspiration and I'll go and build someone, a garden bed, which I've just done it, this ranch and portends a whole lot of stuff. And then I leave. And so I never get to see the fruits of my labor. Let's say. So, you know, driving past my old farm to see like the orchard now is just, just performing really, really well. And you see all these fruit on these trees and the fruits falling on the ground because the people that are there probably don't appreciate what, what they're growing. And, and that's often like my least favorite thing is going back to see some of those gardens and orchards that have planted that.
Jackie Marie Beyer (43m 58s):
Yeah. Like maybe people aren't appreciating or maybe like, they're just amazing. And I'm like, Oh, I wish that, yeah. I could still have access to those avocados or yeah. Those Palm trees. Cause yeah, we grew these beautiful, like Japanese blood plums and Oh, they were amazing. I lost my son one day. I couldn't find him. And he was like three years old. And when I was panicking, he had these really steep concrete stairs. Anyway, I run down the stairs and I can't find them. And I go all the way out my dad's driveway.
Nicole Masters (44m 28s):
And then up around the bend, I find them underneath the blood plum, just like he just had red juices running everywhere and the smile on his face and that yeah. Story. Yeah. He's Remus devious. But anyway, those plums were just the flavor on them, you know, some of these old alien species anyway. Yeah. So like, I think for me, it's just my least favorite thing is making, is not having the time.
Jackie Marie Beyer (44m 58s):
Well, I can totally relate to that. My listeners know there's many days where I go where I don't even make it to the garden and just, and then sometimes yeah, you get back and you're like, Oh my goodness. Look at all this work I have to do. Or I'm notorious for like right now I have these plants that I bought these perennials. I bought like two weeks ago that I have to find a place to put them in the ground. And I've been slowly. I bought nine of them I think. And I'm down to, I have three lavender's and two other, so I'm down to five. So four of them have got in, but I've got to find a place for these other plans.
Jackie Marie Beyer (45m 28s):
I'm always buying things and like, yeah, let's grow this or I'll buy seeds. And Mike will be like, those take a hundred days. You would have had to put them in like anyway. So then is that your favorite activity? Like seeing places that you've built or what's your favorite activity
Nicole Masters (45m 44s):
In the garden?
Jackie Marie Beyer (45m 46s): Yeah, I mean, basically. Yeah.
Nicole Masters (45m 50s):
Oh, okay. Yeah. You have favorite activities, not necessarily the garden. Ah, yes. I think it's those meditative moments maybe when you're like just watering or watching things grow. I mean, I just, it's always such a buzz just to see things grow and, and, and grow of high quality. So one of the meters that we use as the refractometer to measure how well is that fund photosynthesizing, and it gives us an indicator on nutrient density.
Nicole Masters (46m 23s):
And if you use a refractometer like in a grocery store, you'll find most, most vegetables kind of between one to three on the percent rating, which is percent dissolved, solids and sugars. Which is not good and you can taste it. So it makes that food kind of better or flavors or watery. So I was growing kale that was at about 15% or 15 degrees brix. Now that I don't think I've ever seen. I think Patti, Patti Ambrister grows high brix, kale like this, and you can taste it.
Nicole Masters (47m 0s):
I mean, it's just beautiful. And so just to watch my son taking a handful of kale as he was walking to the school bus and eat it, and I'm like, that's not normal! That's not normal that a child is going to take a handful of kale. Yeah. So just to see the quality that's possible and to, to taste that nutrition, they can come back. So that's probably some of my favorite memories of, of, of gardening is just that real buzz. What does it look like to have really healthy systems? Because I think on the whole, we don't know, we can't even imagine because we grow in mostly in very poor degraded, biologically ~ biological deserts, really.
Nicole Masters (47m 42s):
So yeah, for me, that's, that's the reward. That's the excitement.
Jackie Marie Beyer (47m 48s):
That was perfect. Certainly nobody's said that before. So, well, I mean, Mandy Gerth did talk a little bit about nutrient density, but anyway, what's... What's the best gardening advice you've ever received?
Nicole Masters (48m 8s):
The best gardening advice is probably to align myself with nature. So to to think what would this look like in the natural system? How, yeah, and that's really pushed a lot of my diversity thinking and thinking about how do I get more biological diversity as well as above ground diversity. And I've been given a lot of really, really good advice. And I think having those early mentors was probably my best advice was finding those that
would give the good advice.
Nicole Masters (48m 40s):
You know, I think this would come down to Patti as well as having those amazing and Robyn people like that in a community that has such a wealth of knowledge and, you know, to, to listen to them and to see what people are doing in my environment. Yeah. I was very lucky with some of my early mentors and, and just feeling like systems just worked well because I'd had good advice to start with.
Nicole Masters (49m 10s):
Yeah. On the vermiculture side and on, you know, planning, avocados, we just, I think out of 700 avocados, we only lost a handful and they were all planted at the bottom of gullies where it's really weird and I have a cat, I just don't like wet feet. And we knew that. But yeah, I think to, to, to, you know, spend time with elders or spend time with my grandmother who I just admire so much. So it's hard to pick one like one little snippet of advice.
Nicole Masters (49m 41s):
Cause I think it's that, that generation that we need to be spending more time with and really asking questions and you know, this sitting on a goldmine that we don't want to lose.
Jackie Marie Beyer (49m 51s):
I think that's actually really perfect. I don't know it's because I said, I got this other podcasting job and I'm working for somebody who has a podcast about personal development and things. But just, I just feel like when you get help from somebody who's doing something like your growth is going to be exponential, you know, you're like, you can only go so far on your own, but when you get a mentor who's been doing it and it's just, I show, I personally think that is perfect advice. How do you have a fever tool?
Jackie Marie Beyer (50m 22s):
Like if you had to move or like, is there something you either make sure you have when you go to New Zealand or come back? Like what could you not live without a shovel?
Nicole Masters (50m 32s):
I cannot live without a shovel, but you know, we take a lot of holes. We're always digging holes. And what's interesting is how little holes people actually dig to look at their own property or their garden, you know, their own soil. It just blows me away that people would even buy a property and they don't dig holes. They don't know what they're sitting on. And sometimes you can be sitting on something pretty disastrous. And so, yeah, I, I don't, I mean, I'm constantly seeming to lose them. I'd love to have like, Oh, I've had this shovel over 30 years, but I think between traveling, I just seem to leave them in the back.
Jackie Marie Beyer (51m 8s):
What I'm wondering is like, are you talking about like a big, long handled shovel, like a hand trowel, you are
Nicole Masters (51m 17s):
What I would normally call a spade, but I find here people call them shovels. So they're square nosed hole digging shovels. So yeah, we were digging, I guess, more holes than, than necessarily like the garden trowel. But I mean, I think if you're in a garden, you wouldn't want to be in a way without a trowel, but yeah, just, just to be observing what's happening with sort of structure and color and water infiltration and smell and all that. There's so much that we get just from digging holes.
Nicole Masters (51m 47s):
So, you know, really recommend people do more holes.
Jackie Marie Beyer (51m 52s):
My husband used to have a business called dirt diggers. It was a backhoe business and he didn't install septic systems, but he like, I'll never forget like us sitting, like reading that manual. He had to take, to take the test about all the different soil things. And like, he pretty much knew the questions right away. Whereas like I wouldn't have to study that book for like weeks to pass it. Anyway. How about, do you have a favorite recipe like to cook from the garden or eat from the garden?
Nicole Masters (52m 21s):
Baba ganoush. I love Baba ghanoush. A good Baba ghanoush with eggplants.
Jackie Marie Beyer (52m 27s):
I was just going to say, is that eggplant?
Nicole Masters (52m 29s):
Eggplant? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and I think some of my favorites were artichoke choke, like global to choke, like sitting down with that whole ritual of steaming, the big, you know, the big heads on them before they flower and having different dipping sources and having a group of friends around and we just, you know, dipped all the artichoke leaves and Oh yeah. It was just such a cool experience. It was, it was really fun. I mean, it's, it's a lot of work to eat artichoke, but it was well worth it.
Jackie Marie Beyer (53m 1s):
I was just saying there's this new podcast called salad with a side of fries. And she, her recipe this week, I think included was about our order chokes. My mom always was big on cooking artichokes.
Nicole Masters (53m 15s):
Yeah. And I liked the other Jerusalem artichokes as well. They're often plants that people think of as being weeds, but we had a whole like, not quite a shelter about, but we had a lot of glow Jerusalem artichoke on
the side of the road, you know, and that kind of really rough area with things didn't grow very well. The Jerusalem artichoke grew well and then cooked up, cook it up or make it into little chips. Or I really liked the flavor. I know I've introduced it to people here. Oh, well, part of the problem is that it makes you fart, which, which is, you know, that's a conversation topic in itself, but yeah.
Nicole Masters (53m 52s):
I mean, I really liked them. I liked the flavor.
Jackie Marie Beyer (53m 57s):
Do you, do you have a favorite podcast? Do you listen to podcasts at all or not really?
Nicole Masters (54m 2s):
Not really. I just find them. I'm just too busy, but yeah, probably I guess one that comes to mind is the Regenerative Agriculture podcast by John Kempf. But yeah, in saying that I've probably only listened to maybe four, but yeah. I, I often listened to audio books and I'm driving. So I feel like I am too disorganized to work out how to keep downloading when you're at a reception or whatever. Right?! That's what drives me the craziest these days is just trying to listen to shows and constantly having to be where there's a signal because my days are frequently or like a strong enough signal that it's going to download, which technically podcasts are pretty easy to download.
Nicole Masters (54m 48s):
But yeah, I hate that when I, like, as soon as I go out a signal range and then I can't get the episodes. Like it says it's there. But then as soon as you lose the signal, you get the "little signal not working". I don't understand it. I mean, I feel like I'm relatively technologically savvy, but it seems like technology is changing all the time and I'm just like, okay, I'm good with audio books. I've got the app. I download the book. I'm good. Yes.
Jackie Marie Beyer (55m 15s):
See aren't books like that too? Like you have to download the book ahead of time.
Nicole Masters (55m 18s):
Like yeah. You got to demo files. Yeah.
Jackie Marie Beyer (55m 25s):
But yeah, it's all. I just, I like being able to list my worry with books is like, I'm more likely to fall asleep while I'm driving. If I'm listening to a book. Whereas I feel like podcasts kind of inspire me and give me more energy. Whereas a book will, I'm afraid it will put me to sleep, but yeah. Yeah. I think it's all, it's all good. Any kind of learning that you're doing while you're. Anyway, do you have a favorite internet resource? Where do you find yourself surfing on the web?
Nicole Masters (55m 55s):
Google scholar? Google scholar is probably my number one spot that gets used daily. So it's Google scholar, Google scholar is where you go for peer reviewed literature. So looking for like at the moment, I've got really interesting client, that's got a burying problem and I'm like, what is barium? Well, yeah. And so yeah, going to Google scholar to make sure that 'm looking up for information, that's actually reputable.
Nicole Masters (56m 28s):
There's so much stuff on the internet now that is people's opinions, which is fine or just false or yeah. So I, I trust Google scholar than I do for most of my information sources, especially around technical stuff. You know what, you know, what is this microbiology linked to suffer and rhizofiji. Yeah. I really, really enjoy geeking out on the, the, the research. Yeah. So that's, that's probably the main page that is saved in is referred to a lot, which probably makes my life sound really boring, but I really enjoy it.
Jackie Marie Beyer (57m 9s):
I love doing research. I'm so excited to check it out, especially like show my new favorite podcast that I have just been like bingeing on is called White Homework and it's by the woman. And sometimes she brings her sister on or different people, but like, you know, when George Floyd was murdered, they, everybody kept saying, read White Fragility. But to me, this girl is like White Fragility on steroids. And she like just brings her passion to it, her authenticity. And she just explains it in such a better way.
Jackie Marie Beyer (57m 42s):
And I just feel like, I hope she becomes like the most popular podcast and she just changes the world. Like she's really into like conflict resolution and restorative justice. And she just talks about so many great things. And so she actually has homework that you can go and buy the lesson plans. And the one that I bought was about incarceration and trying to find sources for like, how long does it take the police to respond to a incident, you know, thing in Montana or how many people are in jail?
Jackie Marie Beyer (58m 13s):
Like one of the most recent ones I can find was like 2014, which to me is like, you know, I want 2020, 2019, 2018. So stuff like that. And, and to find like I'm really big on media literacy. Like I want to start taking videos of like advertising on the television and being like, this is media literacy. You know, this is fake news. This is not, I feel like I'm constantly on Facebook, always telling people, hello, that is fake news. And here is a resource to, you know, verify that what you're sharing is not the right information anyway, off topic, back to a favorite reading material.
Jackie Marie Beyer (58m 52s):
Like, do you have a book or a magazine besides yours For the Love of Soil book that I know listeners, remember if you get it and when you read it, make sure you leave a five star review on Amazon. So more
people read it because we know this is a fantastic book that we want everybody reading and everybody learning about not just, yeah.
Nicole Masters (59m 14s):
Yeah. But it's got a good American case studies too. It's not just LA it's all over the world. It's fun.
Jackie Marie Beyer (59m 22s):
But do you have another book besides that one to recommend the listeners?
Nicole Masters (59m 29s):
I, I really like seeing what Acres USA is publishing. So acres USA is, you know, they publish a lot of books and they also have a monthly magazine. They're kind of the world's leading voice, I guess, in regenerative agriculture. Organic. Yeah. Anyway, so they produce some great stuff. I'm really enjoying Nourishment by doc, by professor Fred Provenza and in Nourishment, he's talking about his journey, but around the intelligence of animals in terms of what they're eating and plants, metabolites and their relationship with human health.
Nicole Masters (1h 0m 14s):
So it's just, he's just such a beautiful writer that, yeah, I'd highly recommend Nourishment.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 0m 21s):
Perfect. Nobody's recommended that, that I can remember. Okay. So here's my final question. Like, is there anything that you feel like really wanted to cover that we didn't cover?
Nicole Masters (1h 0m 32s): We're good,
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 0m 34s):
If there's one change you would like to see to create a greener world, what would it be? For example, is there a charity or organization your passionate about or project you'd like to see put into action? Like what do you feel Nicole is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either locally, nationally, or on a global scale?
Nicole Masters (1h 0m 54s):
Well, I think what's missing globally comes down to some pretty simple principles, which is how do we start to value interconnectedness and diversity. And that comes through agriculture. It comes through black lives matter. It comes through everything really, because I think if we start to see how connected we are to the earth and to how the, then a lot of our actions become impossible, you know, like if we just started to change our mindsets about how, how we interact with the world, then to be like a capitalist vulture starts to become
untenable, because how could you do that to another living person or to the water or to the air or whatever.
Nicole Masters (1h 1m 40s):
So, yeah. And, and this is what I'm really excited about is I'm seeing these mind shift changes that people are starting to wake up to the fact of how connected we are. And if we continue to ignore how connected we are, then things like, you know, climate variability, it's, it's gonna get worse and what's happening with food security and food systems. It's going to get worse. And, and COVID certainly highlighting a lot of this. So that's what I would like to see, you know, and how do we, how do we educate our children from the very beginning and how the school system support that?
Nicole Masters (1h 2m 16s): And you know, let's bring it on.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 2m 22s):
Are you a rock star millennial born between 1980 and 1995?
Nicole Masters (1h 2m 27s): No. Sorry. Ma'am okay.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 2m 33s):
Nicole told listeners how to connect with you. And again, I am going to repeat my plea for everyone to go to Amazon and leave you a five star review for your book, for the love of soil strategies, to regenerate our food production systems, get it, read it, review it, share it with your friends, buy one for somebody for father's day or mother's day, or what holiday. I guess we miss those for the 4th of July. And I know this book, even if I haven't read it yet, I know it's changing our world show recommended.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 3m 7s):
And just something that we're all gonna want to dive into. I know I'm totally interested in trying to figure out how I can help our soil, because there were so many little looks from Patty Armstrong when she was looking around my place. I was like, yes, I know I dug up those weeds and yes, I know there's Brown soil there. That's not covered. And she's like the one biggest thing she said about our place was like, you could be growing so much more.
Nicole Masters (1h 3m 34s):
Yeah. Yeah. And she grows so much food. So it's part of that mentors. Isn't it see people that you feel inspired by people like that and see what they're doing. Yeah.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 3m 46s):
And hiring people like you and her to help you in your system. Because like you said, it's amazing how much
you can, you can learn and you can, and you can, and I was just downloading the video so I can make a post so people can see what Patty really said here. Like, it was just amazing. So much work, just so valuable anyway, told us how to connect with you, your website, and just anything that they want need to know.
Yeah. So my website is dub dub, dub, Integrity Soils.Co.nz, New Zealand.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 4m 26s):
Yeah. And yeah, connecting with me is pretty difficult. So a lot of the time I am out of reception and yeah, I'm working on a lot of big projects behind the scenes right now.
Nicole Masters (1h 4m 37s):
So watch this space. It's I have a Foundations to soil health online program that will hopefully be released in a few months and, and also an intensive masterclass that we'll be releasing with a workbook and video resources. So yeah, that's, that's probably the best way for people to connect.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 4m 57s):
Okay. I'm going to repeat your website. One more. The American exit Integrity Soils dot C O dot N Zed or NZ. Yes. For New Zealand.
And thank you so much, Nicole, for everything you were doing to change our world for teaching people, for helping people, for being an inspiration and just sharing with us today on the organic gardener podcast, because you know, listeners are gonna love this and just you're full of just great knowledge.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 5m 31s):
Like I just feel like I learned a ton about things that I can do to help our soil and make things grow better and help our little insects and bugs and things bring on some life.
Nicole Masters (1h 5m 44s):
Thank you so much, Jackie. I really enjoyed this. Thank you. Have a great day you to right. Have a great day, everybody. Thanks. Bye. Okay.
Jackie Marie Beyer (1h 5m 54s):
Do you know someone who would benefit from the organic gardener podcast? If you like, what you hear? We'd love it. If you share the organic garden podcast with a friend. Thanks again for listening.
4 (1h 6m 4s): Yeah.
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