old farm nursery

Organic Farming

This is a page of Organic Gardening techniques, topics
and selected links to other Organic Farming information.
Organic farming is vital to our Health and Prosperity.

NEWS UPDATE, Vitamin Cartel Busted

Organic Gardening Topics Include:

  10. CABINS

real soil real soil

Steve's Compost Recipes:

2 parts tree leaves (for deep minerals)
2 parts grass clippings (fresh hot greens)
(fine chipper-shreader material is also ok)
1 part steer manure (crumbly handles best)
add a dash of live soil
add a dash of minerals such as phosphate rock, potash, clays etc.
spray with water lightly while mixing, but don't get soggy
make into small rows about three feet high
along garden border and away from water
cover with soil
turn every few days at least twice with pitchfork (good exercise)
respray with water lightly
compost is usually done
in two to four weeks in warm weather
mix with soil and add to garden
cover composted areas with mulches.

Thanks very much for your letters and questions about compost.
That's why I'm posting some additional info on composting here.

"Can we just spread the materials under trees and around gardens without making and working compost heaps first?"

Its important to compost in separate areas for a number of reasons. It must be piled about three feet high or more to develop and retain heat to destroy harmful bacteria and to generate fungus and good bacteria. The key is developing enough heat, approx. 180oF for days, to convert microbes. Another important process is the very rapid growth of fungus, which produce antibiotics that destroy most harmful bacteria and break down the plant structures rapidly. Then the good soil bacteria and microorganisms begin to thrive and take over as the heap cools.

A recent E. coli bacteria outbreak here was traced to manure placed beneath apple trees. The apples fell onto manure contaminated soils, were picked up, juiced and bottled without pasteurization.

"Can we just use leaves or clippings as mulches instead of composting"?

This is not composting but "mulching". Mulches are important to maintaining the soil surface micro-environment, especially temperature and evaporation rate. They also provide cover and food for soil organisms and earthworms. Organic mulches eventually break down and release their nutrients. Remember, plant materials don't release their nutrients until well composted, and manures are dangerous and fast leaching nitrogen sources. Straight manures are "too hot" and will burn many plants.

Inorganic mulches are usually decorative gravels. They help keep soils cooler, decrease weeds and look clean, don't provide organic nutrients, but provide minerals. Some, such as crushed limestone can raise soil ph and add calcium. Granites and basalts can add potassium and trace minerals slowly. Perlite and vermiculite are usually mixed into topsoils to add moisture retention, tilth, potassium and trace minerals. Crushed phosphate rock breaks down slowly and adds calcium and phosphorus, a very vital nutrient, often deficient in soils. Gypsum can decrease soil ph and add calcium and sulphate.

"What about Fertilizers?"

Remember, plants need Nitrogen (N) from protein rich or nitrogen fixing plants, composts and manures, Phosphate (P) from rock phosphate or bone meal (Superphosphate fertilizer is very soluble and fast acting. It is a quick fix to get started, but leaches into ground water and has to be reapplied regularly) and Potassium (K) or potash from granites, felspars, greensands, clays etc. Fertilizers are rated on the N-P-K percentages.

"Where should we compost and what Equipment do we need?"

The compost should be done separately along fence rows or back areas away from water sources also. A firm hard surface facilitates scooping up and prevents leaching. Diking of compost heaps is sometimes necessary also. Special containers are popular for small urban sites, but unnecessary on farms

Rubber boots should be worn at site and left at site. (Also gloves) Careful washing, especially of broken skin, is vital. Use alcohol or Lysol spray cans if available. Dust masks are also good idea. A good pitchfork and a fine spray nozzle with presurized water are the most important tools. A long soil thermometer is helpful. Baskets, wheelbarrows, carts all help a lot. A large bucket-cable system can quickly move manures from barns to pile areas. Shredders, tillers etc. can break up and mix materials quickly and on larger scale. Loaders and wagons can move materials and composts on large scale.

It really takes two people, one to pitch materials and one to spray with water just until wet, not soggy. Then repeat when turning piles. Piles should be turned at least twice for best results. This greatly speeds process and the compost should have a sweet earthy soil smell very quickly. When heaps cool off they are usually done and ready for spreading. Hot heaps are dangerous to plants, animals, people and earthworms. They sometimes have to be covered to keep out flies, pests, excess rain etc. I cover mine with mineral rich sands or soils, and I sow the cover soil with grass on heaps of coarser materials that are to be left a season.

"What about Leachates?"

Lechates from fresh piles are too rich in bad bacteria and can be dangerous. Keep from water. But old composts are much safer. Some people make a leachate from old finished compost to water soils around seedlings and greenhouse plants.

"What about Earthworms?"

Earthworms are vital to life. First recognized by Darwin as the greatest soil worker and soil creator, the cultivation of earthworms is increasing rapidly. Earthworms don't like fresh compost heaps, way too hot. They like cool finished compost mixed into topsoil. They also don't like soggy soils. They love a sprinkling of corn meal on the surface, where they come up and feed at night. This extra feeding causes them to reproduce very rapidly. The casings are the best fertilizer and soil conditioner. Their turning of the topsoil is very important work and it really adds up to a tremendous amount of tilling over time. Worms can be collected by placing a cone of soil on a wet burlap. As the cone dries in the sun, rake away soil, the worms wiggle down to the burlap where they can be easily gathered. Another trick is to put soil into a 1/4 inch wire cloth sifting box with a 1/2 inch trim around the bottom. Place soil in box and wet burlap under box. Worms will quickly wiggle down through wire to burlap when box is placed in the sun.

A prize winning orange grower here in S. CA simply rakes the leaves in a ring at the drip line around the orange trees. (Not near the trunk where fungus etc. can develop). This mulch shades this soil area, retains moisture, and plus some added compost, raises lots of earthworms right where the tree needs them most. It also keeps weeds out of this vital root area. He uses only a few simple tools and also spends time doing some pruning and weeding (His neighbors don't do this and their weeds blow onto his orchard. They also don't win at the fair!).

Composting and Prosperity

As you can see, this simple process requires much collecting, shreading, mixing and pitching, but is actually one of the most important farm chores, very good exercise and well worth all the effort. It is the most important and vital recycling that man can do. Making soil a thousand times faster than nature and rebuilding vast acreage is really possible, even basket by basket. Composts not only provide nutrients, but also improve soil texture. Sandy soils retain much more water longer, clay soils have better drainage and tilth. Plowing is replaced by easy tilling of soft soil as deep texture improves. Erosion is greatly reduced. Terraced lands and depleated lands can really benefit greatly from compost and have less erosion. They can become as fertile as fine bottom lands. Spread of disease is greatly reduced, water supplies protected, and increased productivity on rich deep soils leads to long term prosperity.

veggies veggies

Organic Farming Links:

  1. The Hunza
  2. Arbor Day Foundation
  3. Rodale Press, Organic Godfathers
  4. Calif. Cert. Organic Farmers
  5. Envir. Res. Fndn, Rachel's News
  6. Farmer's Almanac, Great Grandfather's Favorite
  7. Steve Diver, Plant Nutrition
  8. Organic Production
  9. Organics
  10. Allexperts Organic Advice
  11. Maine Organic Farming Assoc
  12. Sal Schettino Organic Farming
  13. Biodynamic Farming
  14. AgAccess
  15. Bio-Organic
  16. Home Gardening, An Anarchist Plot
  17. Small Organic Farms
  18. Garden Guides & Files
  19. Small Holder Ag Dev Africa
  20. Small Farms
  21. S.A.R.E.P. UC Davis
  22. Jim Scott, MLC
  23. Organic Farming
  24. Organics
  25. Edible Landscaping
  26. Edibles
  27. BioAg Infomine UC Riverside
  28. Org. Farming
  29. Farming Connection
  30. Age-Old Organic Fertilizers & Fertility Supplies Viagra? ;-)
  31. Sundance Greenhouse Supply
  32. Micro Encapsulated Products
  33. Cornell Compost Cans
  34. Organics Brochure
  35. Organic Gardening Tech.
  36. Back To Basics Homestead Books
  37. RiverHouse Herb Farm
  38. Live Earth Farm
  39. USOFC, Costa Rica Organic Farming
  40. Agricultura Links, En Espanol
  41. Today's Vegetable Markets & Ag Links
  42. Garlic Page
  43. Owenlea Dairy Farm
  44. Potato Growers Of Alberta
  45. Potato Futures, NYCE
  46. Mr. Potatoe Head, Fun
  47. Weeds
  48. Beekeeping
  49. WormWorld
  50. WormFarm
  51. Wright's Worm Farm
  52. Worms For Fun & Profit
  53. Earthworm FAQ
  54. Earthworm Lessons
  55. Worm Business
  56. Troy-Bilt Tillers & Small Farm Eq., Garden Way Inc.,

daisies daisies

Special Links:

  1. Garden of Earthly Delights !

  2. Agricultural PerspectivesAgricultural Home Page
  3. Small Farm OutlineThings To Consider
  4. Ranch And Farm Office
  5. Farm SoftwareState of the Art Stuff
  6. 3D Garden Software NEW !
  7. Community Supported Agriculture CSA's
  8. Paulownia TreesWorld's Fastest Growing Hardwoods
  9. Riparian EcoengineeringStreams and Life
  10. A 2 Z Health Check ListFrom Farm To Food
  11. Nutrition & Diet Links
  12. African Agricultural Perspectives
  13. Agricultural Parables A Few Words Form The Master !


Please send any links that you think belong here, Thanks
July 31,1996 Updated Bimonthly