Like any new building or project, designing your dream farmyard starts well before any seeds sprout…even before the first seeds are planted. Fall is the season that farmers and gardeners assess conditions for growing the following season; boost soil fertility; and start to create crop plans.
Nutrient-rich veggies start with rich, healthy soil. Often times people are disheartened when they find out just after the first thaw of spring that their soil is not suitable to grow food. This usually leads to increased set-up costs in the form of transporting top soil or compost and creating raised beds. When you start in the fall, you have the time to filter toxins in the soil and boost fertility all at once.
In order to be fully prepared, it is imperative to get a soil sample tested before the ground freezes completely. (Soil is 25% water, so the mixture becomes very difficult to dig once the thermometer starts dropping.)
Among the fall soil preparations that may be suitable for your dream farmyard are lasagna composting, Bokashi composting, or cover cropping (see diagram). If you want to go crazy, you can combine lasagna composting with cover cropping. Lasagna composting is just what it sounds like: alternating layers of organic matter that will decompose with time and build fertility in your soil. Bokashi in Japanese refers to the process of fermenting organic matter. The method uses anaerobic (without oxygen) fermentation to ‘pickle’ organic matter in an airtight container with a bran that is inoculated with effective microorganisms. Cover crops can trap residual nitrogen in the soil and, in the case of legumes, fix atmospheric nitrogen, as well as prevent erosion of precious soil. Cover crops are typically tilled under in the spring as a ‘green manure.’
BK Farmyards can help you get started! Our staff members have a combined 23 years organic farming experience with vegetables, flowers, chickens, and honeybees. Our consulting services range from soil assessment and crop planning to maintenance and harvesting schedules. We can create a garden or farm plan that is right for your finances, time, and skills. To get started now, please submit an online form. Grow your own food (with a little help from your farmer friends).