These posts show how to set up and manage Gbiota beds. This section is a subscription area for people who really want to be part of the community food movement making Gbiota beds, soils and boxes which do require some technical expertise and agreement to standards.

To login in enter your email address (not user name) and password and save for automatic login in future.

Subscribers are entitled to use the name Gbiota which is trade marked and requires a level of quality.

Please contact me Colin Austin if you are interested in becoming a Gbiota grower at  colin@gbiota.com

Support – plastic sheeting

Support – plastic sheeting

I have been asked about plastic sheeting.
When I first started thinking about Wicking Beds way back in the late 90’s in Ethiopia I was dealing with extreme water shortages and sandy soil.
It just seemed obvious to use plastic sheeting so I never considered otherwise.
However as I began to be more interested in the micro-biology I realised that there was a big advantage in not using any plastic sheeting as that would allow easy access to the microbes and creatures of the soil.

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Support

Support

I often say that the process of growing gut brain food is easy and that is pretty much true but not as easy as tossing things from the shelves into a Supermarket trolley.
But the process of developing the Gbiota system has been far from easy involving over fifty years of experimentation with many failures – that is the cost of innovation.

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Gbiota 101

Gbiota 101

Gbiota basics – collecting organic waste to make labile compost – starting a new box – regenerating an old box

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Gbiota overview 2024

Gbiota overview 2024

Gbiota is an evolving technology and when some new bit of technology comes along I write a new article to describe what is new. This has led to hundreds of articles which for a person new to the Gbiota movement is a bit overwhelming so I am writing this article Gbiota overview 2024 as a review article to overview the Gbiota technology.

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Inoculants

Inoculants

It is easy when growing Gbiota plants to become focused on the plants, which you can see, and forget that the real aim is to enhance the gut biota, which you cannot see.
Engineering problem
The key to the Gbiota system is the ‘engineering’ problems of creating the right conditions to favour the beneficial microbes and out breed the harmful microbes.
Beneficial microbes generally prefer aerobic conditions while the harmful microbes breed in anaerobic conditions, except for fermentation which is anaerobic but can be beneficial.
But you still need some microbes and fungi to start the process and this is what inoculants are for – they are the starter microbes.
I am tempted so say they don’t appear out of thin air – but that is not true. I read that every time we breathe in we can suck some fungal spores which are literally floating in thin air.

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Gbiota soil

Gbiota soil

Creating soil is the number two challenge facing humanity, after climate change.
We know exactly how to do it, it has been happening for billions of years naturally covering much of the earth in a layer of fertile soil.
Then mankind had this idea that the only purpose of soil was to hold the plants upright and we could supply all the nutrients the plants needed.
This idea is not just wrong, it is one of the biggest goofs mankind has ever made, we need the microbes in the soil and our use of inert chemicals is at the root cause of the modern epidemic of chronic diseases.
The snag is that the way nature created soil takes centuries, we need to do it in twelve weeks. This is not just a challenge for the chemists and micro-biologists it is an engineering problem of how to create the right conditions for the microbes to create the soil.
I am an engineer so that is my job.

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Tribox story

Tribox story

The Tribox is the grandfather of the latest Gbiota boxes.
The top box is essentially a normal growing box just like the millions of pots that are used across the globe. It is filled with soil or if no soil is available commercial potting mix, and then seeded and watered on a regular basis.
It has holes in the base to drain any excess water away.
The difference between a regular growing pot and the top Tribox is that a conventional pot is watered with fresh clean water while the top Tribox is watered with a brown liquid full of nutrients and living microbes which we call soil blood as it does the same job as our blood – circulates nutrients and living cells around the system.

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Gbiota Biobox – practise

Gbiota Biobox – practise

  The Gbiota Biobox system is about breeding beneficial microbes in organic waste to grow plants as pre and pro biotics. People will have different organic wastes streams and also different food needs. This means I cannot write this post as a hard and fast...

Gbiota Biobox Theory

Gbiota Biobox - Theory Under construction 29 th Oct 23 In this post I want to show just how easy it is to grow gut brain food. But before I start let me explain why it is to important to have a healthy gut brain and how the food cycle works. Energy, nutrients and gut...

What plants to grow

What plants to grow

What should I grow? Sounds so simple but it is not.
Gbiota is about correcting deficiencies in our modern diet
Gbiota is not about total self sufficiency – I have tried that and it is not easy, actually it is just plain hard work and boring.
Gbiota is about filling in the holes left by our modern food system.
This is dominated by shelf life. We get food from all over the world by a highly complex distribution system which may be effective but takes time from harvest to table.
Microbes deficiencies – they breed and die fast

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Ecobox – how to

Ecobox – how to

In this post I show how to build and maintain a Gbiota Tribox

Growing soil is the key to the Gbiota technology so may I explain how it works.
Plants absorb energy from the sun. They use this energy to break down the bonds between carbon and oxygen from the carbon dioxide which the plants absorb from the atmosphere and hydrogen and oxygen from the water which they absorb from the soil.

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Gbiota easy

Gbiota easy

The flower pot method, using 40 cents flower pots, I described in an earlier post how-to-gpots is the cheapest way I know of applying this method, the stacked boxes I describe here is even easier to use but does need $10 boxes rather than 40cent flower pots (but you only need half as many).

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How to Gpots

How to Gpots

I have written a lot about the theoretical aspect of growing gut food – it is time to get down to the nitty gritties of setting up a Gbiota system.

In developing the Gbiota growing system I have had to consider ease of use and have often had to strike a balance between what it the best technically and what people may be willing to do in today’s high pressure living.
Let us be clear on what we are trying to do – prevent non-infectious diseases.
To do that we must breed the beneficial microbes which will end up in our gut and also ensure there is a good supply of minerals – like zinc which powers our immune system.

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Upgraded Beds

Upgraded Beds

It is approaching thirty years since I was invited to go to Ethiopia to see if there was anything I could do to help feed people in one of those terrible droughts.

I could see the two issues were lack of water and nutrients. Nutrients were the easy bit, weeds may be a pain but they are incredibly effective at extracting the last bit of nutrients from the soil and they can then be used as fertiliser.

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Gbiota bed update 4 Dec 2022

Gbiota bed update 4 Dec 2022

I have written many articles on making and managing Gbiota bed, in this article I want to give a simple description of the state of the art, I do this by telling the story.
The original Gbiota beds were developed in the early 2010’s when the real problem was droughts and the lack of rain.
Sump and pump system
They were very simple – just dig a trench – line with a sheet of plastic – and lay a length of Ag pipe in the base.
The trick was to use a leaky dam at the end bed so the pipe was raised at the end which forces the water out of the holes in the Ag pipe and into the soil.

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Gbiota boxes – update

Gbiota boxes – update

Gbiota boxes, as there name suggests are enclosed and separate from any parent soil.

They do not have the benefit of access to the life forms which live naturally in soil and they are also limited in size.

They do have a theoretical advantage that there is no loss of water to the surrounding soil as is inevitable in an in ground bed but that is largely just a theoretical advantage as it is easy to plant around an in ground bed to use up any water which does wick out from the main bed.

If you have a garden and want to grow a reasonable quantity of food then in ground beds are really the way to go – if you are not convinced by the technical arguments they are simply a lot cheaper and easier to build.

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Soaker beds

Soaker beds

I developed the original Gbiota beds to grow plants which act as natural pre and pro biotics by having a moist, not wet soil. It is very easy to make soil wet, just hump on the water which will breed up the harmful microbes. It is much more difficult get the soil just moist which the beneficial microbes prefer.

I developed the original system using a system of pumps, timers and drains in about 2015 when weather conditions were very dry and they worked fine. But I learned two things.

Many people do not want the bother of installing and maintaining pumps, timers and sumps and then then in 2020 the weather changed dumping massive amounts of water – multiple rains of over 100mm in a few hours. It is not just the water falling on my block – it is all that water falling on blocks higher than mine which create a torrential flow over my block which the then Gbiota beds just could not handle.

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In grounds beds

In grounds beds

Sump beds were developed first as a way of taking advantage of the partial flood and drain cycle. They have been used for some years now and being automated are probably best suited to commercial growers.
However many home growers were put off by the apparent complexity of pumps and timers so I developed the basic beds which are extremely simple and effective but they do need a manual check on water levels. This makes them very suitable for the home grower who just wants a dead simple system – all you need is a spade, some ag pipe, either clay or plastic film and a bit if energy to dig a small trench.
They are almost embarrassingly simple and we see the becoming very popular with home and small scale growers. They can even be partially automated. I describe the more complex pump and sump system first as they illustrate the basic principles and make it easier to understand the deceptively simple basic beds.

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How Gbiota beds work

How Gbiota beds work

Wicking beds are now very common across the globe. Many have a base filled with some inert material – often stones. These are just self watering pots – nothing wrong with that they make life more convenient by avoiding frequent watering. But for a self watering pot the material and water in the base is – or at least should be – inert, when they may stand for extended periods without going putrid (or maybe not if you keep on topping them up).

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Making soil in Gbiota beds

Making soil in Gbiota beds

The key principle of Gbiota bed is to breed beneficial biology both for the soil and for our guts – creating the conditions which favour the beneficial biology – so they can out compete the harmful biology.

Just don’t fall into the trap in thinking you can load up a Wicking or Gbiota bed with inert potting mix – a bit may be useful in conditioning the soil – but it won’t feed the biology. You must provide food for the friendly bugs – if you don’t feed them they die. No debate – sorry.

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Making soil

Making soil

Modern food, full of sugars, fats, salts and flavourings provides us with abundant energy, is tasty, cheap and convenient but lacks key minerals and biology.

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Making soil 101

Making soil 101

Gbiota beds are not simply a watering system to grow cabbages – they are to breed the biology to grow plants as natural pre and pro biotics.

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Making a Gbiota bed

Making a Gbiota bed

What the difference between a Wicking Bed and a Gbiota bed. The answer could be nothing.
The purpose of Wicking Beds is better use of water.
The purpose of Gbiota beds is to create biologically active nutrient rich soil to grow gut food (Gbiota food) – they are about how to make soil that will improve our gut biology and hence health span.

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Gbiota easy

Gbiota easy

This is the easiest way I know to grow Gbiota food, it is dead simple and works fine but lacks the automated flood and drain features of a full blown Gbiota bed – but it is a great way to get started.

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Making soil work

Making soil work

We have the technical ability to grow food, which is convenient, taste good and is cheap in a way totally divorced from the conventional methods of food production, no longer needing soil and biology as the core of production but relying on chemistry.

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Germination

Germination

Wicking beds are highly productive and water efficient, the reason why they were so water efficient is that the surface soil was dry so there was minimal loss of water by evaporation from the surface or seepage of water past the root zone.

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quick gbiota beds

quick gbiota beds

Here is a link to the quick gbiota beds.pdf quick gbiota beds which explains how to make a quick Gbiota bed.

GBiota beds are simple to make and very productive in small areas

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Soil destruction

Soil destruction

Soil is created by biological action but the wide spread use of chemicals and mechanisation is slowly but persistently destroying the soil on which human life depends.

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Aunti Maud

Aunti Maud

I get angry about the way a few wealthy people manipulate the truth for their benefit leading to health and climate catastrophes. But not Auntie Maud, if she were alive today.

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Micro farms

Micro farms

I get angry about the way a few wealthy people manipulate the truth for their benefit leading to health and climate catastrophes. But not Auntie Maud, if she were alive today.

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Rock dust

Rock dust   Why not just add rock dust The amount of micro-nutrient we actually need is very small - measured in micro grams which is barely a few grains. Yet there are trillions of tonnes of volcanic rocks, and it is continuously being replaced, an almost...

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