Coming Up: Making More With Microbes

Four Days of Dirty Tricks & Secrets to help you become the smartest person you know when it comes to soil, compost & compost tea.

This Summer the Ecology Action Centre and the Turning Leaf Centre are collaborating with Doug Weatherbee to bring you a four day intensive class looking at the health and life of your soil.

August 11th- 14th, 2011

(four days 9-5)                                

Saint Mary’s University, Halifax

Cost: $300-$350 sliding scale                                            

We have attempted to keep this course as affordable as possible, using community partnerships to share resources and keep costs down. If you are able to afford the $350 fee a part of your fee will go towards scholarships for people who are unable to afford the whole tuition. We thank everyone for contributing to making this class accessible.

In four action packed days, we will be looking at:

  • Basics of microbiology – the “tiny” biology that is so important to bringing life and health to the soil.
  • Secrets to making best-quality compost customized for its end use (i.e. compost for gardens, compost for farmland and compost for food forests and orchards).
  • Vermicomposting- everything you want to know about composting with worms.
  • Combating soil disturbances, soil compaction, plant diseases and pathogens.
  • Turning a small quantity of compost into a large quantity of quality compost tea & compost extracts.
  • Designs and recipes for your very own compost tea brewer.

This intensive workshop will run both inside and outside of the classroom. Hands-on work will allow you to put your knowledge into practice. We will be building large compost piles and brewing teas outside in the gardens.

Soil is the foundation to our work. This class is for you if you are a:

  • Farmer (small or large), and want to minimize or eliminate synthetic fertilizer or biocides inputs, reduce irrigation needs and improve soil fertility.
  • SPIN farmer, organic farmer or CSA operator and you want to improve your organic growing and land management techniques, reduce the requirement for weeding and ecologically favor the plants that you want to grow.
  • Gardener or horticulturalist and want healthier, more nutrient-dense  plants, higher germination rates, less watering, and less weeding.
  • Landscape architect or soil restorationist and want to speed up plant establishment and rebuild topsoil, suppress plant diseases, have higher survival rates for plantings all the while using non-toxic inputs.
  • Permaculture designer wanting to learn more about guilds, plant combining, how to support the soil and establish your food forests faster – starting with the foundation.
  • Social Entrepreneur and looking for a new venture to make money and do good things for the planet at the same time – a job you can feel good about (i.e. creating custom composts and compost teas for your clients).

Doug Weatherbee (a.k.a “The Soil Doctor”) is a Soil Foodweb Advisor and soil expert. He is visiting Nova Scotia this summer and will be offering a class during his time here in Halifax. Doug has trained extensively with the renown Dr. Elaine Ingham, founder of the Soil Foodweb association. He has studied watershed restoration. He is also a Certified Permaculture Designer and Teacher, having studied with one of the world’s leading Permaculturalists, Geoff Lawton.


“The future of our climate and civilization depends up restoring the planet’s 12 billions acres of farmland and pasture land to full vitality, so as to sequester billions of tons of excess greenhouse gases and to produce healthy organic food for the growing global human family. To carry out this Great Transition, we need a corps of Soil Doctors and an army of organic farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Doug Weatherbee is the top Soil Doctor in Mexico and one of the best in the world. His inspiring talk at the 2010 Quivira Carbon Ranch conference was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”
–Ronnie Cummins, International Director
US Organic Consumers Association


Space is limited, please register early.

Please contact Garity at . Include the following Information:




Are you interested in car pooling?

__ Driver __ Passenger __ Either

If yes, from which area are you traveling?

Please Note:  Buses 14, 17,18 and 10 all stop along Inglis Street and the 9 stops along Tower Road. We will also attempt to match participants interested in car pooling if possible. If you require childcare to attend the workshop please let us know and we will do our best to provide it.

Method of payment and Cancellation Policy: Participants must pay upon registering for the class. We can accept cash, cheque or credit card. We require a credit card number or payment to secure your spot. Please note that we can only refund your registration fee if you cancel a minimum of four business days prior to the class. If you are unable to attend, you are welcome to invite a friend to come in your place.

Detailed Course Outline

Day 1

  • Introductions and Agenda
  • Soil Microbiological case studies
  • Soil: Sand, silt, clay and humus
  • Soil: Microbiological soil food web
  • Plant Diseases and Pathogens: It’s a numbers game
  • Ecosystem Succession: Why does soil microbiology matter to our plants?
  • Review So Far: SoilDoctor soil care take-home principles
  • Compost Type Introduction: thermophilic, static and vermicomposting
  • Carbon: Nitrogen ratio of compost inputs; bacterial  or fungal dominated compost

Day 2

  • How to Make Thermophilic Compost
  • How to make Static Compost
  • Worm Power: Vermicomposting
  • Review So Far: SoilDoctor soil care take-home
  • principles
  • Practical “Get Your Hands Dirty” Stuff:

— Assessing the farm for compost high N, green and high carbon inputs

— Making Fungal and Bacterial Dominated Thermophilic Composts

— Making Static Composts

Day 3

  • Reversing Ecosystem Succession: Disturbances to the soil and its consequences
  • Soil Compaction: The problem of no oxygen
  • Microbiological Driven Nutrient Retention in the Soil
  • The Carbon Cycle and Soil: Green house gas emission, mitigation and sequestering
  • Biogeochemical Nutrient Cycling
  • Microbiological Driven Nutrient Availability for Our Plants
  • Review So Far: SoilDoctor soil care take-home principles
  • Actively Aerated Compost Teas and Extracts
  • Tea Brewer Design Examples

Day 4

  • Practical “Get Your Hands Dirty” Stuff:

–Assembling a Tea Brewer
–Making Fungal Dominated Compost Tea
–Reading DO2 Levels

  • Review So Far: SoilDoctor soil care take-home principles
  • Soil Microbiology Lab Test: What it tells us
  • Soil Chemical Test: What it doesn’t tell us
  • What’s a Typical Microbiological Growing Season  Look Like?: Some project planning
  • So how would this work in my garden, ranch or farm?
  • Qualitative Microscope Set-up, Usage, Sampling
  • Microscope Identification of Soil Food Web Microbes
  • Wrap-up



2 thoughts on “Coming Up: Making More With Microbes

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