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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