Unless you have been asleep for the last decade or maybe you're just really out of touch you are bound to heard of the No Till movement that is sweeping the nation in both the farming and gardening sectors of agriculture. Like the term implies no till is a method of growing crops on both large and small scales without tilling the soil. To those of you that have been raised in what became industrial farming/gardening this idea of not tilling the soil will seem just backwards and potentially a waste of your time.
I know right….
It’s January and I am already talking about the summer garden. But if you are a serious gardener like me you need to start planning this early because before you know it the early cool season crops can be going in the ground.
The winter is perfect time to look back on your garden and figure out what you did right what you did wrong and what you want to change before this next season begins. In my case some things that went right this last summer would be the following,
Things I did wrong…
Planning for next year
After you have had a chance to reflect on the previous year you can now plan better for next year. Things that you should figure out now would include,
Building soil organic matter in your crop fields is not a very hard task to accomplish at least when it comes to the methods used to do it. The hardest part about increasing your soil's organic matter percentage is the time it takes and that the more organic matter you have in your fields the harder it is build even more. Before I jump into on how to add to the organic matter content in your soil I first want to touch lightly on what causes organic matter to be depleted in the first place.
When it comes to your soil you can usually never do enough to improve your soils ability to provide you with beautiful, nutritious, sustainably grown food. I say usually because it is possible to overdo everything if you really put your mind to it. But with a well thought out plan you can easily and consistently improve and maintain your soil at its peak performance. I find the best way to lay out a soil improvement plan is to do it by the season.
For thousands of years soil fertility was maintained using a natural fertilizer widely available around the world.
This fertilizer is known as poop.
That's right I said poop. I know that to the modern sensibilities the idea of using poop to grow food is probably a little uncomfortable. But when you compare it to the the other option we have been using it really doesn't seem that bad.
Soil under modern agriculture has been reduced to a being a sponge that is there is absorb artificial fertilizers and pesticides instead of a living breathing structure. While chemicals can produce a amazing crop with great yields it has been shown that they suffer in flavor and nutrition.
The growing trend of organic farming has brought about a new interest in maintaining soil fertility without the use of chemicals. This can be done with two different but very complimentary techniques.
Soil organic matter is added to the soil through the addition of decaying plants and animals. But to increase soil organic matter can be a tricky proposition when you are using the soil for gardening or farming. The very tools used to plant, weed and harvest a crop will work against you if your goal is to add organic matter. Organic matter present in the soil is a combination of carbon and nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and what ever else might be floating around in living things. The nutrients/minerals are used by all living things as building block for various structures that are contained within them. If you look at silica for example, it is used by plants to,
If you wish to build a sustainable homestead then it is critical that you know how to control soil erosion in all its forms. Just a quick recap if you didn't read my last post soil erosion is caused by wind and water moving the soil from one place to another. It will depend on your location and management practices which type of erosion is more devastating to your land.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.