Mon 18 Oct 2021 7:32AM

Explore the Underground

SD Stephen Davies Public Seen by 17

Would’ve like a poll to have been possible for a start time but Fran and I have almost no flexibility. We’re going to meet online on this Wednesday (20th) at 6:30pm, to discuss the ‘Explore the Underground’ event on Saturday, Oct 30th.

Thought I should pop this on here for anyone that isn’t in the whattsapp group. If you haven’t heard of the event at all yet, it is centred around soil testing with a Halloween theme (hence underworld).

Running order looks like this;

10am gardening

11am soil test

1pm Lunch + consultation presentation recap

2pm open mic + fire

Meeting to discuss the details and propose edits

Lots of love x


Francesca Tue 26 Oct 2021 1:54PM

We can print at home up to A4! Do you want to send over the print? I am not sure about lamination...could that be octopus print? Or should we get some transparent folders?

I have a big white fabric sheet that we can use, otherwise can paste together some smaller paper sheets to make a big canvas or use that roll (that is a little narrow though)


Francesca Tue 26 Oct 2021 2:03PM

Organisation meeting Wednesday 20th October 2021

Present: Fran, Carmel, Katie, Ste, Sally, Adam 

Raining - what do we do with rain?


1xMarquee (possibly) 

1x Tarpaulin on pergola outside cabin

Microscope - university?

Magnifying glass 

using Marquees to put bags and explain things

Samples from across the field - where? Decide on the day

3 methods

  • Visual soil assessment 

  • Biology and carbon 

  • Slake test - test tubes (Katie)

Format 11-1am

1 group soil test - demonstration

Composite soil tests 

Divide in groups and one of us goes with each group

Microbial activities and carbon test (£52 PKG add)

3 parts:

  • Visual soil assessment VESS

  • Earth warms - worm cast - worm ID - down across and top (HGB guide)

  • Slake test 

  • PH test?

  • Send test to lab 400gr to NRN 

Make it like a story - white science coats, costumes, make it a scene, face paints 


What lives in the underworlds - extension of the Bioblitz - what is there what is in the soil 

We have to find out something about the soil…

Collaborative painting

Drawing what they think it's under the soil: Warms - bacteria - monsters 

Map and sheet - laminator?

Make paints 

Sally chat with Hannah Jones

Different places and different states - from other places to talk about the differences 

White trays from uni

Funnel - mud in the funnel - light on top - todgreen funnel + strong torch 

Catch bugs and make kids drawings with them 


What are the activities and what do we need people to bring 

Katie understanding what’s required for soil testing

Fran main paint - need paint brushes

Electric power source

Pots, plates, cutlery

Ask people to bring a spade, paint brushes, 

Torch and a funnel, pots to catch things in

Alex Murphy built a mud kitchen for kids


Katie Bliss Tue 26 Oct 2021 2:33PM

I am wondering if for the soil tests - that for each little plot we combine the DIY soil testing process you have above with the VESS/ earthworms - so they basically get to a plot and look at the surface, make any observations about what is there.. and then dig a hole. Look at the texture / roots / what does it look / smell / feel like (as in the DIY soil process) and ideally give it a VESS score but not essentual... - then pull out the worms. count them and identify them by their ecotype if of interest... ? They will then put a sample of the soil in a test tube for the composite sample. If they are keen they can then do a slake test - but may need carmel to lead on this as I am not so sure how it works and we will need water - but guess we will be taking some on site anyway?


Francesca Tue 26 Oct 2021 2:40PM


slake test looking like a simple procedure here, with a metal mesh and two plastic cups...


Francesca Tue 26 Oct 2021 2:54PM


this is super cool too and very accessible! I might see if I can integrate it with your writing @Katie Bliss !


Katie Bliss Tue 26 Oct 2021 3:21PM

I have combined the DIY soil test with the earthworm adn VESS to make an outline for an activity sheet / guide https://docs.google.com/document/d/1btT7SRgX9GK1uNl0K1h07aUrSvmTvEPb/edit


Liz Band Wed 27 Oct 2021 6:59PM


Amazing work. Katie, would you like me to remove the blank spaces from the google doc. And print a copy for each group? where you thinking 5 groups, and bring paper for everyone to record their answers on(to reduce printing costs?).

We could also then potentially display underworld drawings in the marque??Let me know if it would be helpful to print the google doc. Underworld activities sheet and how many copies you’d like.


Sally Thu 28 Oct 2021 9:50AM

This is really great Katie! I love the way it all connects together and takes a group on a little journey.

I have just emailed the University to ask for trays and microscopes but think it will probably be a bit last minute so not holding my breath! Just had a look through my pile of soil related bits and pieces in addition to what you already have I have some earthworm id guides, and some AHDB GreatSoils guides to measuring soil pH, soil organic matter etc that I can bring along.

I probably only have about 6 laminating pouches left so if there is a lot of laminating will need to buy some more....


Sally Thu 28 Oct 2021 9:54AM

https://ahdb.org.uk/greatsoils some great resources here - I have copies of a few of them...

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