Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tilling the Fields

Last week was a big week for LJF.  We hired a man to do some plowing and tilling with a tractor. One acre is now scratched open and needing planting. The hayfield will take it all back if we are not quick about it. We will be planting feed corn and fox tail millet for poultry feed, market veggies and potatoes.

The plan is to under plant clover as a green manure/ living mulch for the corn.  We will pre-treat the clover seed with organic inoculant.  The inoculant is a specially selected strain of nitrogen fixing bacteria that will colonize the roots of the clover, and grow  in nodules that secrete nitrogen into the soil.  Since corn is a nitrogen hog (and depletes the soil readily) we are doing this to eliminate the need to treat the field with petroleum based fertilizers.  This is considered a "deep organic" method as described by the organic gardening guru Eliot Coleman.  The idea is not to just use processed organic fertilizers but to amend the soil and improve it. Chemical additions,be they organic or petroleum  based, do not offer a long term improvement to the soil.  In  fact, they can burn and kill earthworms and beneficial insect (yes, even if they are organic). The only other amendments will be manure and compost.

Later in the season the clover will  be knocked down and in-planted with Oaxacan Green Dent Corn.  I tried to pick a heirloom variety from a region with a similar humidity and growing conditions to East TN.  I may be wrong about the selection, but that is how things go, you try and see what works.  I also have a batch of Ohio Blue Clarige from Broadened Horizons Organic Farm.  This is a landrace corn that the farm has developed over successive growing seasons. I will plant it on another schedule so it won't tassel at the same time as the Oaxacan so it doesn't cross pollinate and resemble nothing like we intended.

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