Finally Spring Maybe

29 04 2008

As our first season gears up for vegetable farming, we are all feeling overwhelmed at the never ending list of things that need to be done around here. Being idle for a moment is painstaking because even when our bodies get a chance to slump over, our minds race over the what needs to be done.

Less complaining more farming. Spring is here, wildflowers bloom. Vegetables will grow as well. Our first field/garden is off to a magnificent start, which can only be blessed by the addition of an irrigation system.

This is what I more or less have on my mind today:

Composting.

Composting is more of less the act of creating organic matter in a quicker more controlled manner in order to amend the soil. Composting happens as natural decay in a balanced ecosystem. So as we breach the tender ecosystem by having a farm, soil looses its stability and therefore its ability to birth healthy plants. Therefore we need to return to the land what we have taken away. We can recreate the organic matter beneficial to plants through composting organic/living materials such as kitchen scraps, chicken litter, horse manure, newspaper, weeds, garden refuse, and more. Composting can be done in a more controlled environment to promote proper decay, so we can add the most stability back into the soil.

Use of compost is necessary ingredient of a sustainable farm. Therefore creating compost on site, is the next logical step if we are to pursue sustainability. Being able to produce all the needed compost on site, to be able to correctly amend our soil every year to be able to produce the healthiest crops will be a keystone, a fundamental, and and important example for future farming.

Spring now, but Fall with its decay of the landscape is a most important lesson to carry with our presence on this farm. How do I go about simulating a perpetual decay so there will be enough or an abundance of usable compost? What kind of systems, given the ingredients and tools that are available, can be developed to provide all the compost I need to build a healthy soil?

Where can I forage for more ingredients to increase the amount of compost? Would green manures be an important part of the composting process?

What kind of tools and structures can be had to have more efficient composting? What kind of composting method would be most suitable to our specific farm needs? What are the most efficient ways to stay up to date with organic standards for composting in case we decide to become organic?

How can composting be annually planned so that there is more compost when soil amending is most necessary? Will there be enough compost for seed starts in early spring? How much compost will be needed to add the soil before planting in spring? Will there be enough compost for the greenhouse? Compost to be used as mulch in both summer and fall? Are these all the applications where compost is going to be needed? Quantitatively, how can this all be planned? What are the numbers, say in cubic yards of compost do I need to make annually? How can this be measured and adjusted for farm expansion?

What other methods of organic soil amendment besides composting can be used along side of compost to add other necessary features to boost plant production? Cover crops as green manure, as mulch, nitrogen fixers, and weed suppressors? Vermiculture bins to make worm castings? Uses of different teas and tonics?

Just thinking about it.

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4 responses

30 04 2008
mudpuddlefarm

In feeding and watering the chickens I continued on my thought of last night. If we could create the chicken litter from free components (i am thinking, shredded dead tree branches, recycled newspaper, and cardboard), then we used litter could be added to the compost.
Since the litter is, let say sweetened, the compost now has the ability to act as a fertilizer and soil stabilizer.
This would be helpful not only to reduce the cost of buying chicken litter, but would actively include itself in the general cycle of this farm.

We are currently adding the sweetened store bought chicken litter.

So we are going to have 24 total chickens on the farm, unless we have more than one male. We think that we only have one rooster, so we won’t have to kill any.
What kind of litter input annually is required? How much litter a year? And how many times do we have to change that litter a year? Monthly? Bi-monthly?
How much litter we use on the chickens will be close to how much we are going to add to our compost.
Well if we could us all the shredded newspaper that we add to the compost directly, then we wouldn’t have to use chicken purchased chicken litter. That would be sweet, like killing to sentient beings with one stone.

Finally, with the addition, eventually of a chicken tractor, how much less chicken litter will we have?

2 05 2008
Ben

Yes!

I just read in my composting book… and you should use the leaf duff that is everywhere as the chicken bedding. It’s Carbon mostly, and just waiting for bird poo! That way the Coop can be a stationary composter as well as the chicken ark.

Composting, yes. Then soon we have to do biodynamic composting with stinging nettle activator juice… and comfrey tea… and ?

2 05 2008
Ben

oops… should have posted after thinking, but composting gets my mind going. What if… we offered a vegetable waste collection to the CSA people? We collect the stuff they don’t use… and GIVE IT BACK TO THEM YET AGAIN! They can take part in the magic. Just a thought…

9 05 2008
Kirby

When the field gets mowed for the neighbor’s pasture, we can use the DR mower for the edges next to the fences. This “grass” can be used for chicken litter – not only for them to eat but to put in their nests and on the floor of their house. Remember we have that back pasture as well – mow, rake, chicken litter – and it can go directly into the compost. As the chickens are outside more, we use less litter inside.

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