Having a healthy, well balanced and biologically active soil is critically important to growing how we do. We follow these three principals as best we can:
Disturb the soil as little as possible
Keep the soil covered
Keep the soil planted as much as possible
Building Healthy Soil
No-till, on our farm means we are disturbing the soil as little as possible. Instead, we participate in biologically-intensive, tractor-free, human-scale techniques to manage our permanent raised beds. Benefits of this no-till system include:
• Less dependence on expensive machinery
• Reduced dependency on fossil fuels and runoff caused by tillage
• Improved soil structure and reduced compaction
• Biologically active soil and natural resistance to pests and disease
• Increased water holding capacity and resistance to drought
We do not use any pesticides. There are a number of pesticides approved for Organic use, but we feel that toxic substances, no matter their origins, should not be applied to food. Rather we work diligently to create a healthy soil ecosystem, create habitat for beneficial insects and our avian friends, strategically select crop varieties, and maintain small farm that is able to be managed on a human scale.
Disturb the soil as little as possible:
We do not use any heavy implements on our farm. We occasionally use a broadfork to help loosen the soil without inverting its structure. We use surface cultivation hand tools to deal with weeds and a small tilther to help incorporate amendments and compost into the first 1-2 inches of the soil. When we harvest or remove old crops, we leave the roots in the ground to decompose and feed the soil life.
Keep the soil covered:
We accomplish this in different ways on our farm. We may cover the soil with a woven geotextile fabric, use of a silage tarp, applying a thick layer of compost mulch, or planting intensively to create a leaf canopy over the soil.
Keep the soil planted as much as possible:
As much as we are able we keep the soil planted by planting fresh crops as soon as old crops come out. This keeps the soil biology happy and productive.
Feed your soil... I addition to brewing our own soil inoculants using on farm indigenous plants and microbes we also purchase in OMRI listed compost and soil amendments. We use these companies to source our seed starting mixes, soil amendments (applied based on a yearly soil test), and biological controls.
Seven Spring Farm Supply: our source for soil amendments and seed starting mix (we currently use either Vermont Compost or Dirt Craft Organics.
Arbico Organics: my source for beneficials.