Bluebird's Farming Practices
As we evolve in the operation of our farm, we realize more and more how biology is the centerpiece of our farm. The reason we are investing in more acres of land is so we can have alternating strips of vegetable and cover crops across our whole farm, all in tribute to feeding the biology!! This beautiful process is entwined with nutritional density, weed control and pest control.
Chemistry-Weeds are prompted to grow as nature's plan to fix the soil. Calcium is the center of biological farming. It opens the soil so biology can grow. Grasses and Canadian thistles grow due to lack of calcium. Heeding those signs, we are adding calcium to the soil in the spring of 2014. Calcium is the miracle worker for a healthy soil. It improves soil structure, brings other minerals into line, stimulates soil microbes and earthworms, mobilizes nutrients into plants, increases nitrogen utilization, makes higher protein content, stimulates root and leaf growth, strengthens cell walls, improves enzyme functions and makes a higher quality fruit. Calcium is what makes our potatoes taste like candy and makes our sweet corn be the best you've ever had. But it also tells nature that thistles and grasses don't need to grow.
The alternating cover crops across our whole farm is the best method of weed control. The extra land will make our farm a model farm.
Stale seedbed- Weeds are prompted to grow when the soil is tilled. With the stale seedbed method, we will go with the spader (which minimizes damage to soil structure). We will then let it sit for a week and let the weeds grow. Before planting the vegetable crop, we will flame the weeds causing them to die. Since we will plant without disturbing the soil, new weeds are not prompted to grow. If planting a crop such as carrots, we will flame them just before the carrots come up.
Cultivators- We have many kinds of cultivators to do mechanical tillage. Examples are the Organic Weed Puller, Regi Weeder, rolling cultivators and basket weeders. This year we are getting Williams cultivators which we have learned are the best ever.
Herbicides are not in our weed control plan!
Nutritional density begins with soil biology. A plant gives 70% of its energy to the plant root to feed the biology. The biology, in return, chews up organic matter and minerals to feed to the plant! This is a magical dance of symbiosis!! The most incredible part of our creation is right below our feet, in the soil!! So to bring natural nutritional density to you, we have to consider how we can helps the soil biology. One important factor is to add more calcium to our soil, which we are doing in the spring of 2014. All of the other minerals have to be in place as well.. We add those to the transplant or seeds as we plant. We have also found a product at the conferences this year that feeds the biology. It is a complex of enzymes, trace elements, vitamins and natural plant extracts. This amazing food for the biology will be added at planting time and will become a huge added boost to the biology and thus, the plant. We have already tried an experiment with this and it shows amazing promise.
For a further boost to nutritional density, we will foliar feed weekly using seaweed, humates and micronutrients. Anything from the ocean is a boost in nutritional density. While this looks like nasty spraying, it is good and healthful nutrition the plant receives through the leaves! Everything we do is for the health of our members.
Pests seek weak and unhealthy plants. They cannot digest complete proteins found in nutritionally dense plants. Nature's plan always favors getting rid of the weak. So we are finding the pest problem to be declining each year. However, if a pest does surface, such as with flea beetles last summer, we always use organic products. Spinosad is one we heard about at the Moses Organic Conference and it has been a very good one. But our first goal is to have our pests not want our produce in the first place.