Chrissy Star

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since Mar 31, 2016
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
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Recent posts by Chrissy Star

HI, I've written & continue to update a list of soil tinctures (& related info) for supporting organic plants - what is your favourite?   Is it already in this article - if not, are you happy for it to be included?  If yes, would you/who should I credit as the source?  Together, we can create an excellent resource for us all to grow & share our knowledge!

Read the article text below...or view in full at:


Using Soil Tinctures to = “Feed The Soil, Not The Plant”.

Healthy plants look great, produce high quality produce, repel pests (via volatile organic compounds) & more.  To sustain health, they require a wide range of nutrients, much more than NPK – nitrogen, phosphorus & potassium.  The basic nutrients (biochemical sequence) are used in the order…

   Boron, which activates:
   Silicon, which carries all other nutrients, starting with…
   Calcium, which binds =
   Nitrogen to form amino acids, DNA and cell division.  Amino acids form proteins such as chlorophyll and tag trace elements, especially =
   Magnesium, which transfers energy via…
   Phosphorus to:
   Carbon to form sugars, which go where –
   Potassium carries them to build plant cells.

Thus, the nutrient with the lowest concentration limits growth – much like the shortest plank in a barrel limits the amount of water held. (Image of Leibig's 'Law of the Minimum' concept viewable here:

Nutritional requirements change from…
– plant to plant –
– species to species –
– season to season –
– location to location –

Thankfully, planet Earth is a living lab which has been working on plant health for billions of years!  So we don’t need to work it all out – we just need to work with (or mimic) nature.

Activated Soil…

Plant nutrients are produced by soil organisms who decompose large particles into small particles – so small, that they dissolve in water & are taken up by plant roots (via capillary action).

Healthy soil = living soil!

We can identify the presence of healthy, living soil – because the soil stays attached to a root system when it is lifted.  The plant has a ‘fluffy’ rhizosphere (or root zone) as roots, living beings & soil become one.

This is (bio) activated soil – it is living soil.

…the living organisms within activated soil are:


Key players:

   Earthworms & small animals


…proliferate when fed = simple carbon sources:

   Green materials (leaf)
   Fruit juice
   Fish emulsion


…proliferate when fed = complex carbon sources:

   Brown materials (bark, wood, roots)
   Cellulose (i.e.. Lucerne)
   Wood chip
   Fish oils


…proliferate when:

   Moisture exists.
   Hard-hooved animals are absent.
   Synthetic pesticides & pollutants are absent.

Inoculate with:

   Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) grown in buckets from pond water which has been allowed to sit for a few weeks (until it goes green).




Inoculate soil with:

   Protozoa tea



   Each other

Inoculate soil with:


Earthworms & small animals:


   Decomposing organic matter.
   Other soil life.

Inoculate soil with:

   Livestock manure

Soil Tinctures…

Soil tinctures keep soil healthy by feeding the soil organisms.

Dominant soil biota:

   Bacteria-dominant soils (agriculture) = groundcovers, salads, grains, root-crops, herbs, leafy vegetables, flowers, shrubs.
   Fungi-dominant soils (horticulture) = larger shrubs, bulbs, mushrooms, fruit trees, nut trees, sap trees, vines, small & medium trees, large canopy trees…


   One cup of boiled rice.
   Add selected nutrient based on what organism you wish to be dominant:
       Bacteria eat (simple carbon) – brown sugar.
       Fungi eat (complex carbon) – carbohydrates.
   Place in a bucket with holes drilled into the bottom & sides.
   Place into worm farm (on top of castings) for 1-2 weeks.
   One cup additional nutrient:
       Extra food for bacteria/fungi
       Whatever your soil lacks (i.e. if it is low in calcium, add fish).
       Plant nutrient (see ‘The biochemical basis of plant nutrition’ above).
   Optional step: Aerate (with a bubbler or pour between containers/vigorously mix twice daily).

Compost Tea – farming aerobic microorganisms & producing plant nutrients:

   One part compost (as diverse a mix as possible).
   Ten parts water.
   Aerate (with a bubbler/vigorously mix twice a day).
   Brew for one week (minimum).
   Dilute to the colour of weak tea.
   Apply to the soil (target the plant roots).

Protozoa tea:

   Make a ‘Compost Tea’ – but use lucerne (in place of compost).

Super simple compost tea:

(Images for 'Super simple compost tea' are available here:
Add water to a few handfuls of leaf litter & soil – if possible, add manure.

Aerate daily by pouring from one bucket into another.

It’s ready when it turns the colour of tea – around one week!

Synergistic cover crop mix – inputs 50% sugar into soil (feeds soil biota):

Apply as seed or living plant:

   Legumes (beans, seed pods) 40%
   Grasses 25%
   Cereals (grains) 25%
   Chenopods (quinoa, amaranth, fat hen etc) 5%
   Brassicas (radish, cabbage, broccoli, kale, canola, mustard etc) 5%

Bonus tinctures…

Root-growth hormone:

If a plant species is known to shoot roots when placed in water or directly in the ground, it is high in root-growth hormone (usually indole acetic acid or a derivative of).  This is the same store-bought hormone used in propagation as a dipping powder or gel.

To collect & use = macerate the plant in a minimal amount of water, pour liquid off & use fresh.  (This will not keep, use immediately.)


   dip a cutting (clone) into the liquid & plant into growth medium (ie. soil, perlite etc).
   pour around the stem (to target the roots).  

Pest repellent + :

The above tincture can be used for any desired plant product, for example – to repel pests, macerate a plant which contains a repellent & spray liquid onto leaves.

[Related article: Natural Broad-Spectrum Herbicide Recipe (Wild-Foraged). at]


   Main image:  The New York Times. 2013. The Hidden World Under Our Feet. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 September 2019].
   Eco Farming Daily. 2019. Building the Microbial Bridge for Soil Health. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 September 2019].
   BioAg. 2020. Top 5 tips for spring pasture. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 January 2020].

Special thanks to Noosa & District Landcare presentation “Tonics For Your Soil” with Nina Saxton & Dave Clark (20th June, 2019).

P.S.  You can also write an article & include in the community magazine here:

P.P.S.  What would you like to read about?  Got any tips for what topics to write about?

4 months ago
Hi, I live on top of a ridge which protrudes the farthest of all surrounding ridges...

The ridge falls down to a valley either side & the house-site sits right on top.  Wind gathers in the valley below & with extremely high force, whips to the top of the ridge where the house sits.  The site is made up of 3 rectangular sheds which force the wind through the middle causing wind damage to trees & plants.  I have watched the wind snap a tree in half which was 10m high & had a 20cm trunk diameter!

Image: 1m contours

How can I reduce the wind velocity?

Maybe a windbreak - where?  The majority of damaging wind enters from the south-east valley...on this side the hill drops down after the building.  The drop will reduce the windbreak height & drop effectiveness dramatically.

I am thinking of maybe installing some DIY wind turbines to reduce the velocity.  

Has anyone had success with DIY wind turbines handling bursts of high velocity wind?

All comments & suggestions are GREATLY appreciated, thank you!
6 months ago
Hi!  Thanks for your great work of sharing knowledge through your book!  Marvellous!
6 months ago
I am a qualified Environmental Scientist who worked as a Research Assistant (ie. Research Scientist in a team of researchers) at Australia's leading water science research centre.  Here, I was able to have an impact on the scientific community through my contributions in my work.  My work went towards the scientific journal articles which scientists use to share information.  Each journal is peer reviewed to ensure the work is true (both the methods & results analysis).  Together, the scientists of the world eek out the laws of the universe and it's applications.   It is a big and time consuming job - afterall, space and time is infinite.

I left this job to pursue an honours, followed by doctorate degree...then got sick & underwent a form of chemo, which threw me WAY off course.  Maybe I will return and get that PhD, maybe not.

Currently, I teach permaculture and plan to have my own research lab open to my students, the permaculture & my local community (landowners & business').  I feel that my knowledge & skills can better serve the public at this time.  We will see if it works, or if in reality - will be too hard for people who have not been trained in the field (both the knowledge & skills).  We will see.

As far as science goes this is all good on a superficial level...but when it comes to something really solid and important = it won't work...I don't have the wealth of information behind me via a global team of scientists through the research journals (the method the scientists use to communicate their findings).  I won't be able to submit any findings unless I affiliate with a reputable research facility.  I guess I could do this?  But for the (relatively) light (scientific) work/knolwedge that goes on with permaculture...I'm not sure if it is needed.  Research is cutting edge, finding & refining what has not been done before.  

But then agian, so are many aspects of permaculture.  Wish me luck?

Tereza Okava wrote:I translate and edit scientific/medical research for publication, and in my experience many researchers have research ability or writing skills, but only one.

Maybe what you are observing is people who know it's going to you (an editor) and thus don't bother taking it to it's finished state - they have research to do!  Thus, are taking advantage of your presence - because that's what you job is & why you are there?

In my experience (as an environmental scientist) the 2 jobs (research work and writing it up as a scientific journal article) are not separated, the same person does both (actually a group of people collaborate on it) - if you can't handle the format, you don't become a research scientist (you fail from the beginning through your uni degree & certainly can't go on to honours or a doctorate)!

I'm curious, as someone who writes up research, do you have a background research science?  If not, how are you able to understand the topic details, research methods, data analysis, conclusions & recommendations?  I assume you do not review the work itself (a team of research scientists would do this) - it comes to you (the editor) before being sent to the journal?

Dave Burton wrote:How would you define effective scientific communication?

Providing the correct amount of information for your audience to:
- understand the significance of the info
- be able to repeat it to another person accurately (ie. they understand what was communicated)
Yes, I am interested in being involved - this is something I have planned to do also and (after posting the idea of Simbi) have an impressive list of people who are willing to help from the field of IT!  Email me:

P.S.  I am an environmental scientist who currently teaches the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) course.  
Find a university that specializes in plant biology or human health.  Review the list of individual professors - the ones who are doing work in this field are who you should send this to.  This is not a research project that fits in the field of permaculture, but in the field of:

- plant perception or Plant Gnosophysiology (the ability of plants to sense and respond to the environment to adjust their morphology, physiology, and phenotype accordingly. or similar.)
- neurobotany

I have found 2 answers for you:

1.  Each topic in each field of science has it's own language and knowledge base.  To communicate your findings to your audience (in particular, the layman) requires the inclusion of adequate background & explanations (of words used).  This often transforms (what started as) a single topic into multiple topics and the reader can get lost or overrun with information.  There is only so much a person can learn (or grasp) at one time.  The original information gets lost in this process - or interest wavers to something else.
2.  The peer-review process requires multiple individuals with high knowledge of the discipline assess the work (to assure credibility & accuracy).  If this is not done, there can be no assurance that the work is factual and the methods solid.  This process is time consuming and dependent on being able to access individuals with enough knowledge in the field.
Thank you for your replies.  How do I notify the moderator - where do I message them from?  Do I do this via the"report" button?  I have tried this to find out - with an explanation that I am trying to delete it.  Also, it occured to me that maybe if I delete my profile (cancel my membership) to - my posts may dissappear.  Do you think this would work?

The other option is to edit the post (which I have done a number of times before) - but there is no longer this option (the "edit" button has disappeared) can I get it back?  Why has it disappeared - does it automatically disappear after a certain amount of time has passed?  

Thanks heaps for your help with this, I appreciate it greatly!