You are all welcomed to attend the 1st annual X-mas Tree Bonfire at the Farm! I am super excited to incinerate a few dried out and well loved Christmas trees with all of you. Let’s gather together during the Winter Solstice and celebrate the coming growing season!
We’ll be reusing and recycling those lovely smelling, decorations, trees, wreaths, or garlands, what have you. If you don’t have a tree or don’t typically celebrate the Winter Solstice Season with a tree just go ask your neighbors or snag a discarded tree from the street gutter. Because that tree is going to become some excellent fertilizer for our farm!
Tree Ash is a great resource for the farm. As your farmer and the steward of this little chunk of land I struggle deeply with every day choices. I try to make the best ones, and when it comes to soil preparation and amending it’s a hard bit of truth that I struggle to swallow. Soil is so complex and it’s literally the land we stand on and I want to treat it with deep admiration, thanks and respect. The Pacific Northwest has high clay, high acid soil. It defines our region. This last season I watched and experienced the effects of our soil health on our plants. Many of the plants were dwarfed, a common indication of poor soil health, mainly a lack of the big three N-P-K or Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
This year I will be amending, because the Farm simply can’t feed us all nutritious foods if the soil can’t deliver the required nutrients to those plants to grow healthy, lush lives. I’m not 100% comfortable with this decision. It’s not natural to truck in a bunch of amendments and dump it on one concentrated place- then again the way the first European Pioneers farmed didn’t exactly set us up for long term success. Many of these amendments are mined then trucked and flown from all over the world, that carbon foot print isn’t too kind and feels counter intuitive to sustainable farming. Unfortunately the truly natural way to fix these soil deficiencies is through time (we gatta eat now, I need to pay my rent now), many years of cover cropping (Clover, oat and buckwheat are on the fields currently!), and the returning to the earth of animal bodies and humanure. Yup, your poop is a much needed component in close looping the farms needs, every time we drive the food away from the farm we are escorting many nutrients away from that particular parcel of land and it takes decades for those nutrients to make their way back.
Above is a soil test of one of the farm fields.
Here’s my compromise, because we all know life is full of compromises. I will adhere to all OMRI/Organic certs when choosing and applying these amendments and I pledge to always work towards supplementing and reducing even eliminating a few of these amendments. Burning up a bunch of Christmas trees is one such supplement! What could be more fun anyways? The ash from the bonfire will be scattered across the fields, it contains high amounts of Potassium (N) and Phosphorous (K) and lots of micro-nutrients such as Zinc, Iron and Calcium. N is necessary for flowering and fruiting production of a plant, K increases the plants resistance to disease and enhances root growth. The application of our burn pile wood ash is similar to Agricultural Lime with about half the potency. Ag Lime and Wood Ash are very alkaline which counteracts or helps neutralize the high acidity found naturally in our clay soils allowing us to find a balance. For mixed vegetable production we are shooting for ‘7’. Check out the scale below! There is some hope that with time, the farm can raise the PH level high enough that we can maintain it through more sustainable practices such as using wood ash and fish shells instead of trucking in stone, mineral or manufactured lime. Please join me in the merriment and the soil science experiment! Together as a community we’ll learn, grow and eat together!
See you at the Bonfire!
Farmer Michelle! & Farm Family!