As a small farm that uses only sustainable growing practices, we are interested in collecting evidence and posting outcomes from our seasonal learning experiences.
In 2015, we tried a new method of growing and soil renewal. We planted rows of spring and fall cover crop between the rows of crops to 1) attract bees and 2) renew the soil at the same time we are “taking from it” (balancing inputs/outputs). This growing season, we will reverse the procedure and plant in the rows where the cover crops were. A soil test will help us know if our experiment changed the soil chemistry in the rows where there were cover crops planted. Stay tuned!
2016 update: at the beginning of our season, we sent our soil samples off to the soil lab at UMass. We made sure to include samples where we had used cover crops and areas where we hadn’t. When we got our soil test results back, we saw no difference in our soil’s pH levels. Hmmm. Could it have been the five major floods (3 more than normal) that we had starting November 1, 2015 all the way through into 2016? Not sure. So this year, we’re going to try another method of caring for and enriching our soil – chickens! A small group of mini farmers who are interested in getting both eggs and meat volunteered to construct a chicken tractor for us to use on the area of the farm that we had planned to keep fallow and cover crop. The design of the tractor follows the “full circle” methods created by Geoff Lawton. We were inspired by his YouTube video on how his chickens and chicken tractor create compost for the soil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09MDwSMQEs0
Again, check back with us towards the end of the 2016 as we embark on this learning adventure to once again tend our soils in ways that aligns with nature’s ways.