Building Garden Soil with Free Local and Abundant Resources
One of the keys to continually improving soil fertility is to always give more to the soil than we take. With each harvest, we remove nutrients from the soil, and it’s important to give them back in order to ensure the success of the next crop. A great place to start is with the plant waste generated on site. We return all healthy plant waste back to the soil in the form of compost, vermicompost, or mulch. Thousands of earthworms help in this process, chewing through the mulch,.
Working their way through compost piles after they’ve cooled down, and happily consuming food scraps in our worm bins. But even if when we return all healthy plant waste, the soil is still at a deficit. The nutrients in discarded, diseased plants are lost, as are the nutrients in the crops that we eat. In an ideal world, I suppose, all humanure would be safely composted and returned to the soil, but even then the soil would be at a slightly greater nutrient deficit with each harvest. To compensate for this deficit, we look to external inputs.
And there are so many to choose from that it can boggle the mind. For organic gardeners, there are npk fertilizers, bat guano, alfalfa meal, fish fertilizers, kelp fertilizers, blood and bone meal, composted manure, Epsom salt, rock dust, greensand, and lime just to name a few. Looking at all the available options, one might come to the conclusion that growing your own fruit and veg costs an arm and a leg.
Many years ago, when faced with this confusing array of products, I asked myself â€œwhat would happen if we didn’t use any of them, and instead relied only on resources that are free, local, and abundant? Might we be able to reduce our gardening expenses dramatically, continue to get great results, and also keep valuable resources out of landfills?â€� With these questions in mind, I started to consider what free external inputs were available. We were already composting all fruit and vegetable waste from storebought groceries,.
But what else could we do? I remembered that my father always piled leaves on our garden in the fall, so we started collecting leaves from around the neighborhood and added them to our garden beds and compost piles. Around here, people pay to have their leaves hauled away, so it’s pretty easy to convince people to give them to you. Leaves not only provide nutrients and improve soil structure and water retention; they’re the very definition of free, local, and abundant.
The next free resource we started using was used coffee grounds from a shop that’s only minutes away. I’ve estimated that with coffee grounds alone, we add 25.6 pounds of nitrogen and 3.84 pounds of both phosphorus and potassium to the garden each year. You’d have to buy 256 pounds of a 101010 fertilizer to get that much nitrogen, and 38.4 pounds to get that much phosphorus and potassium. Again, at least around here, used coffee grounds are free, local, and abundant. Next, we discovered that our city has a municipal wood chip pile.
At first we only used the wood chips to cover the walking paths. Later, I realized that if I dug deep enough into the pile, the wood chips were already fairly well decomposed and made a great addition to garden beds as well as compost piles. The wood chip pile was also full of red wigglers, which I collected along with the wood chips. Last year we expanded our search even further and found free, local, and abunda nt sources for spent brewery grains, and horse manure. These new materials further diversified the nutrients in our compost.
How to Best Build Soil to Increase Profit When Organic Farming
Alright, this is John Kohler of growingyour greens , today I’ve got another episode for you; i’m traveling, i’m here in Warren Vermont; I think. Almost standing in the middle of nowhere and I have no idea of where I am, I followed my GPS to get here and where i’m at is the Kingsbury Market Garden and they sell their produce through CSA, the muddy boots CSA and Some other CSA’s as well as the local outlets. The reason i’m here today is to show you guys a different kinda farm or garden that I usually visit because this is a commercial operation driven by profits to make money, because if the owner Aaron doesn’t make a living, he can’t pay us more, you know all this kinda stuff. So, I want.
To show you guys some of his growing practices that allow him to be successful; whether you want to have your own farm, be successful or whether you’re just a home gardener, you can gain knowledge from this information to adjust what you’re doing, so that you can be as successful as Aaron. One of the first things I want to talk about is the fertility that he brings to the land here: its next to a river, with silty and sandy soil, that’s definitely not optimal but he has being bringing and adding fertility through local and inexpensive resources, to build fertility at the lowest cost so he can keep his profit’s up. So that’s what I want.
To show you guys first, what he uses to fertilize and add nutrients to his garden. So let’s go ahead and check it out, I think we’ve got some piles right over here. So, this is the fertility that he uses primarily, right? He wants to get local resources and use them on the farm here, so that there’s minimal cost for his imports. One number one is actually the Wood Chips, the wood chips gets dumped here by abreast, that need to get rid of them and normally would dump them. In the olden days, there is an area actually over near the farm where people just dump the chips and they’ll just build up and build up overtime, and they’ll actually just harvest the well decomposed Wood Chips for a good fungal rich.
Compost. So he continues to add Wood Chips for this fungal activity, but also for the cabin that the wood chips contain. Now more of them are just the Wood Chips, another thing that he uses; that actually, we don’t have any piles of is actually the chicken manure’s. That stuff would stink and he said its composted chicken manure, so we don’t have any raw stuff to show you, that’s two; and so the you’ve got the cabin sauce, you’ve got the nitrogen sauce and the manure, then you’ve got this sauce right here, and this is the stuff that he’s banking on and really he believes, made a difference in his garden. This stuff is known as the Bricks Brand (Rock Dust), by Rock Dust local which he gets delivered here.
By under $70 a ton. So he gets a lot of this stuff and he’s being adding this to his soil for the last four years, he’s being farming on this property for like five years or something like that. So he’s being using it almost from the beginning, and he has seen a difference in his growth, because the soil is not so fertile and he believes by making fertile soil, and from what he’s seeing , he’s getting higher yields and less disease on his land so that it can be more productive and more importantly, more profitable. So once he’s got this three imports, what he does is he actually combines them over here and there’s a parking sign; but.
Obviously, he combines the Rock Dust here on top, with the Wood Chips, with the manure, so it’s all mixed and harmadronized together in a compost and then he spreads it out on he’s fields, maybe using the fall or something like that. This adds to the fertility, plus he also uses some foliar sprays of *4:02* and some other minerals as needed. Epsom salts to add further trace minerals into he’s plants, so that they could grow healthy because he’s formally a believer in the power of trace minerals. He believes unlike standard organic farming and garden that quot;compost is the answerquot;, keep throwing on compost, everything will work itself out. Well I have seen challenges where just adding compost and compost, especially.
If it’s good quality compost, can cause challenges and you’re not going to get the best growth. He believes that by adding the minerals, the plants are going to be healthy because after walking through some of his garden, I could definitely vouch for that because of all the farms and gardens I have visited in my time in Vermont, this one truly looks like the healthiest by far. So what I’m going to do next is to actually walk through and show you guys some of the field’s, some of the crops he’s growing, how good they look and the production he’s able to achieve here in Vermont. So here you guys are seeing a nice couple of rows of carrots and he really parks this.