Building Soils for Better Crops

Building Soils for Better Crops, 3rd Edition

Had the downloaded digital version of this book since the 2nd edition, for at least a couple of years now, dipped into it, but still haven’t read it through. I should and I will. This winter! The 3rd edition of Building Soils for Better Crops: Sustainable Soil Management came out last year and it’s even better, full of practical science for the upward-looking tiny farmer and veggie gardener. Here’s the blurb: “A one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike.” The PDF version is a free download, the printed version is about 20 bucks. There’s a fair number of soil books and books that cover soil out there, but for the tiny farmer, this is pretty much one of a kind.

Somewhat submerged!

Waterlogged in December

It’s a wet December! After only a couple of days of rain, the ground is pretty well waterlogged, to the point where I can’t move the Kubota compact tractor without leaving deep furrows that’ll be totally compacted and eventually dry like concrete. So, before being rained out entirely three-quarters of the way through the job, it was slogging on 100′ round trips through boot-sucking muck, one forkload of hay at a time, to mulch garlic—not a big deal, there’s only a 100′ bed and a half to cover, but the EASIER plan was to use the tractor to push the big round bale to the garlic bed. Guess not. Lesson: Um, don’t wait! :)

Anchoring the hoophouse

Anchoring the hoophouse

Finally got around to at least getting the base of the hoophouse anchored. This whole decision of whether to build it now or wait till spring has been up in the air for a while. At least, with the 4×4 rough cut cedar beams that hold up the steel ribs positioned and the anchor posts set, it’ll be relatively easy to get the frame up and then skin it…whenever. Even on a warm day in February or March! Flexibility! Options! Or maybe just…putting it off. I do want to purchase new plastic—what’s on hand now is around five years old, gotten milky, past its prime… In any case, today, I pounded in six 3′ T-bars, three per 20′ side. That little screw is only for the moment, it will all get bolted together with metal strapping or brackets. I’ve done this before… :)

First seed catalog of the year!

First seed catalog to arrive

Well ahead of the pack, Veseys takes first new seed catalog of the year. They’re a pretty marketing-oriented company, they get their stuff out early—this actually arrived a while ago, but I only got my hands on it now! Which is fine by me. I haven’t been this, well, EXCITED with that new-catalog feeling in a couple of years. That’s good. There is a lot of proper, well-ahead-of-time planning to do, expectations for 2012 run high! Whatever the weather!!

Beef and eggplant stew!

Beef and eggplant stew

Another in my series of possibly-not-so-appetizing photos of oh-so-delicious food. Local food. Ingredients either grown by me or gotten from those who did. I still find knowing where your food comes from endlessly satisfying, it doesn’t get old. Anyhow, without further ado, on to the one-pot, no-culinary-skills-required Beef and Eggplant Stew. Continue reading Beef and eggplant stew!

Like a pile of gold!

Manure delivery

Really can’t think what delivery of basic farm supplies could make me happier than today’s six truckloads of well-aged cow manure. Since we don’t have an on-farm source, getting this from a farm less than a mile (1.6km) down the road, loaded to order and delivered by the farmer himself, is a pretty good Plan B. This has been stacked for average around a year, so the composting action is well underway. I’ll be rearranging it into large windrows with the compact Kubota, for further breakdown till spring, and spreading some now. Heart-warming! :)


Leafless tree

Suddenly, this morning, it’s cold! For this time of year, that’s a forecast of 4°C (39°F) all day, and -6°C (21°F) overnight. Brrrr… Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t even notice the leaves turning in their usual intense explosion of reds and yellows, this time around, the trees kinda just went bare with a minimum of flash, and here we are! Round about now, this is as good a day as any to pick as the end of the old season, start of the new farming year!