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Small farm in zone 6 going organic and using permaculture methods

 
Seth Sampson
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Hello everyone I just joined the board and would like some suggestions on our small farm in southern Indiana. We live on a small 13 acre farm on top of a hill with 8 horses and 2 angus heffers. My wife and I did a internship last season on a organic farm in northern Montana and want to use some technics we've learned to start to change our farm using methods like permaculture, no till and start the process of going totally organic.

This year we are expanding our garden and will focus on soil quality. unfortunately we will have to plow at the beginning of the season to expand, but we did lay a hefty amount of horse manure on top last fall. Crop rotation suggestion like which which crops deplete the soil in certain nutrients and which crops replace it and which would be the best cover crop for zone 6 this fall would be awesome. This area is going to be used as our vegetable garden. I have been thinking about using the straw bail garden method for our tomatoes alone and continue to rotate this method each year around the garden to help with compost and soil quality. I've also considered investing in a couple hogs for tilling and fertilization.

Thanks you everyone for any input you may have to help us along the way,

-Seth Sampson
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 115
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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if you put the manure on thick enough, it should have killed the sod and you can plant into the manure which should be well broken down by planting time. At least that usually works for me with everything but salad greens. "Fluffing it" with a fork helps too. Sounds like a great project.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
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My first thought when looking at a property, is where is the water? Where does it come from, where does it move to, where is it stored? Is it infiltrating into the soil or running off the land? What can be done to hold it on the land in the most productive way for the longest time?
Why do you feel you have to plow? You may be right, but it also may be unnecessary, and why spend the effort and mess up the soil life if it is not necessary? Perhaps subsoiling to reduce compaction would be something to consider, rather than plowing.
In terms of cover crops, think about diversity. A mix performs better than a single crop. What mix? Something you could feed to your cows and horses as well as feeding your soil would be a good permaculture approach. Gabe Brown is a good resource for cover crop information.
What do you see yourselves growing going into the future? Market garden type crops, perennials, working toward a food forest? Your long term intentions will be really important in terms of developing a plan for transforming your farm.
 
2017 Appropriate Technology Course at Wheaton Labs http://richsoil.com/pdc
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