This episode was originally posted August 2018. It’s a great resource for building soil health. If you want to join the Patti Armbrister Fan club send me an email!
I’ve been wanting to see some podcasts on you know the organic gardeners when we talk about soil health and composting and the principals of cover crops
they just turn their lights off and don’t want ot talk because they are doing organic gardening and
every single farmer
including your household vegetable gardeners
they’re doing production organics
they’re on a fast pace to destroying their soils and don’t know it
finally on fb yesterday, the day before
one of my friends, she is a leader in organic gardening, she made a video on the same topic,
when I started hearing about soil health she didn’t think they were talking about her, when she realized the principles are about her
they have this mindset
they are above and beyond soil health
they are some of the ones the fastest
What are they doing? To ruin their soil.
use a broad fork
a real shallow device
365 other then the day you are going to pull the weed mulch
soil should be covered
so when you look at it you should either see
dead organic matter
wood mulch/chips that you’ve added or you should
see live plants
never see bare ground
next rule or principal
more plant diversity
farming solar rays of sunlight that is coming to the earth
as those plants do photosynthesis then they are dropping root exudates ~ they leak them out of their root system for the
Uses those sugar and carbohydrate
Then they deliver to the plant something the plant needed. They do this with signals depending on the root exudates.
Let’s say it’s a corn plant, it needs nitrogen. And next to it is a, tomato and a tomato needs calcium.
sending different signals
biology brings back different
nitrogen is getting created by protozoa, then eating the fungi then pooing it out
form of the bacteria fungi, attached to the roots
The plant couldn’t use it until it went through the stomach of the protozoa and it poops it out. Kind of like a seed….
so it could sprout
nutrients become available to the plant. The more plants and species of plants in that group the more sugars there is in the soil life and more diversity of the nutrients cycling around in the soil.
too good a job
too much calcium
sending the signal
need it and it’s available to them too. So it’s like a sharing event taking place.
So the more diversity there is the healthier
meaning if we’re gonna take out a crop
just got done with the spring
spinach or arugula
bed is empty now,
as soon it is done I chop them down and they become part of the leaf litter
the next succession of plant
pepper into that spot
For the biology of the soil, there is always a living root there, always giving off root exudates. This exchange is always going and can go year round if we have a perennial plants in the system!
This is awesome!
There is another thing that happens with the root structures
A carrot is obviously a taproot, it has a singular taproot can break up hardpan
radish can break up the hardpan.
The hardpan is created by us
the train is 200 yards from my house, making the ground bounce and causing compaction
taproot breaks that compaction layer up
worms will feed off that decaying root
just the tap root looks like it is just the tap root but it has a long long skinny root, but it’s several feet on the ground, then the worm able to go down the channel and burrow. Let’s say next to the plant is a carrot
thousands of roots in a mat
next to the carrot
root system is called biological tilling
and making it better from the soil from their root system.
Some of the carbon is getting stored into the soil
versus one type of crop, if we are having a field of corn, we have one type of root in the soil
those are the principles
think about the principles
You’re an organic farmer who just prepared the seed bed
roto-tilled the bed.
dead organic matter
deep as your tines will go 4-5-6 inches deep
bottom half 6-inches deep
roots have to break thorough that in order to have a system of any kind going on
so they come down
root turns on the direct
across the hard pan turns on a angle because it is looking for nutrients and water but it can’t grow through it so they are fighting for the nutrients and water.
So what does someone who has a large acreage like 2 acres or 10 acres without a tractor?
You would use a tractor and then plant a cover crop. But you’re gonna cut it down or a roller.
lays it into a mat
then they go in with a no till drill, that has a disc, two little discs
opens a furrow
that drops seed in
roller that goes over that that has a way to pack it down.
seed soil compact
This is awesome! This is what a lot of Liz Carlisle’s book The Lentil Undergound is about right? If we know these are best practices why aren’t we doing it? and I was talking to Megan Cain the other day and she was saying she tries to put something in the same day she takes it out so she doesn’t have bare soil. That’s good advice for me because I am the worst at getting my seeds in the ground!
there’s another thing they call inner seeding
we could inner seed
In between the corn, so they are growing the whole time the corn is growing. We may not harvest them, like the clover, but we could harvest the beans or peas, we might be walking on some beans or peas
a lot of the inner cropping
the inner crop is just to help with fixing the nitrogen and keeping the roots cool
So you have a cooler soil, where it’s not getting dried out by the wind but not super cool
soil biology, creates some heat, so that soil temperature might not be major difference but it’s better then dry air exposed
exposed tilled soil
if they are there they’re dormant, not doing anything
They have to have moisture
not over a 100º
doing their thing
Anytime we have exposed soil on the surface that’s expose to the air and wind
traveling before some soil erosion
With a mph reader
They said everybody start watching the t-shirt, it’s already running at 2-3 mph think we haven’t seen anything it, but you look down and the dirts all over the t-shirt….
can’t see them by the human eye
if we can’t see we don’t conceive it, that it’s already happening. He had it go up to 20 mph, you could see the soil rolling and bumping, rolling and
on top of this little mph
20mph is a little wind. The other day we had in eastern Montana 90mph
you can’t even just stand, you’re just left with rocks
is on top of this soil
And it would also help like in the forests where they fires are burning to hold in the soil there too.
So those are the main principles are those five things
They have tried all the principals separate from each other, they do work to a certain extent, but if you put all five of them together
You can turn soil that is almost on the verge of decertification and turn it into healthy soil in three years!
We can start whenever the person can wrap their head around starting
once we decide it doesn’t matter what time of year. Let’s say it’s fall,
You would normally go in and pull your tomatoes
I would never pull the root out of the ground, I might cut the plant off, but let it do it’s natural thing and let it catch snow and it will slowly break down into the system
as long as it isn’t diseased, if it’s diseased take it out.
first thing is
I try to catch people in the fall
you should maybe leave that. Once you recognize these principals it will save a lot of labor and time! And wonder we haven’t done it all this way all the time?
I never thought about that before, if you leave it there, what do you do in the spring?
That’s nature’s way is already starting to decompose it
We have the most decomposing going on right underneath the snow
decomposing already taking place with the moisture of the snow, it will be already breaking down
In the spring we hope you have some mulch left, a system in the spring…
A worm can take a whole leaf, and pull it down their den 3 foot deep. So a lot of that stuff is just going to disappear. You get into this.
I have a friend I her into this started this 3 years ago
third year of white dutch clover in the walkways
Already she is like I need to get more mulch
leaves in the fall. I told her in the future you want to be thinking about growing a cover crops to put in for the mulch.
In certain areas, you would be able to cut it, and use that as a straw mulch. It will be green when you cut it and it will turn into something that looks like straw.
I was going to ask you about the clover. I guess I was just thinking is the bees like the clover. You also posted the pictures of her garden right?
She has it between all of her beds, she mows it when it gets 4 inches tall,mows it late evening when the bees have already left
She mows the walkways and lets the leaf littler from the clipping go into the beds