Win a copy of The Biotime Log this week in the Permaculture forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

My soil health strategy  RSS feed

 
Posts: 43
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
bee forest garden
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't have much experience, but this seems to be working. I live in the city of Lowell Massachusetts (zone 6) and have a small amount of land (less than 270 meters^2).

I started with poor land (half bare, lots of dyeing plants, powder soil that repels water, probably lots of lead).

I have some slope problems that I have put off for next spring. Dealing with slopes is important. In nature, you don't find soil at the top of a steep mountain. I also heard that "Shit rolls downhill."

First I tried to establish more cover. I planted cover crop mixes with as much variety as conveniently possible. I planted often throughout the year. I planted the most of a species when I thought conditions were best for it. The charts at sare.org helped a lot for designing mixes and when to plant them. I inoculated my legumes.

Reasons for cover cropping:
- stop erosion
- increase water permeability
- Plants feed the soil.
- to mine nutrients
- shade: My strawberries grew better where they were surrounded by grass.

My favorite purchased cover crops, and about how much I used:
4 lbs Buckwheat: quick establishment, best pioneer, best drought tolerance when young
10 lbs winter rye: great at growing in the cold
15 lbs hairy vetch: cheaper than dirt, was $0.5/lb, great when wet and semi-cold, good drought resistance, favorite
3 lbs clovers: tough, long lasting

I used chemical fertilizer, lime, and pH tests. These are unnecessary and can hurt soil, but I think they can be a good temporary way to get faster results.

I planted a small amount of diverse crops, and did chop and drop.

Chop and drop goals:
- get enough light to crops
- Keep hairy vetch from smothering.
- rot dead stuff faster

Compost

I applied this from a pile that I started last year. I tried to add diverse organisms to the compost when I started it. I added a tiny bit of various mushrooms and dirt samples. I had about 8 meters^3 (Next year's pile will be bigger.) It was never turned, and it wasn't fully composted. I think that fully composting is a waste of time. I also think that most compost bins (including the one I made with free pallets) are unnecessary. Most of the compostable material came from "yard waste" (mostly leaves). I stuffed my truck with it when coming home from my parents. I probably got 10 truck loads this year.

I have a great compost location. It's the one spot with huge trees nearby to feed it.

I applied the compost in a polkadot pattern of mounds so there would be plenty of plants to feed it.

In the future I won't need to make a compost pile. I should be able to get all the nutrients I need by directly applying yard waste (from my neighbors) in a polkadot pattern.

I planted a lot of tubers (sunchoke, potato, groundnut). It's easy to grow a tuber in uncomposted yard waste. I plan to grow many tubers without digging by dropping yard waste on them.

My fertilizer advice for those with large flat land :
Get people to dump fertilizer on your land, and have them pay you to do it.

possibly more to come + pictures
 
David Smolinski
Posts: 43
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
bee forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's my sprouter. The lid (a bowl) isn't shown. When I plant cover crops, I usually start sprouting them 2 days before broadcast planting. I plant, then 1 hour later I get a few days of rain.
KIMG0106.jpg
[Thumbnail for KIMG0106.jpg]
 
gardener
Posts: 4896
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
564
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like every part of your technique except for this:

I used chemical fertilizer, lime, and pH tests. These are unnecessary and can hurt soil, but I think they can be a good temporary way to get faster results.



Chemical fertilizers were developed for monoculture row crops, they kill all the microorganisms that you are trying to nurture and that makes them no good unless you plan on farming dirt (dead soil that only consists of minerals).
As such, there is no way that they can be "a temporary way to get faster results", unless you are trying to emulate a monocrop agriculture style of growing things.
If you are attempting to grow a thriving microbiology which is what soil is, then killing off the organisms already there is not what I would consider "a good, temporary way to get faster results" of building soil.
That makes no sense to me, it is like cutting down a forest of food providing trees to plant a food forest.

Redhawk
 
The moustache of a titan! The ad of a flea:
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!