I recently viewed the film A Farm for the Future which I linked to in a previous post.
There is a particular part of the film where they feature a no-dig farm. That is, a farm where they do not plow the soil and thus have enabled and encouraged numerous grass varieties to establish themselves. This enabled the farmer to permit his cattle to graze for much longer periods that would otherwise have been possible without the damage to the soil that their walking can and without have to plow and sow new purchased seed (usually just one grass variety) each year.
What captivated me was the open-mindedness of the farmer who researched and observed what was happening around him and to make some changes to his farming practice and refine it with patience, time and further observation.
It reminded me to also leave as much of my backyard garden beds covered and protected so as to allow the soil life to really establish properly and replenish and aerate the soil themselves. The very back garden bed is certainly going to be a major test plot for this. I have already added a decent thickness of hay mulch to protect the soil and plant roots coming into summer. However, rather than disturbing too much of the soil, I will simply plant into it and keep adding organic matter.
This is what the garden looked like some weeks back when the bulk of the soil was added. It contained some worms but was largely devoid of anything that might nourish the plants. After adding some dynamic lifter and some rock dust, along with mulching very heavily with hay, the garden picked up well when we had the recent spell of rains and sunshine. Scroll a bit further down for a recent photo with the corn and sunflowers.
It has also sprung to life with many different ‘weeds’ which are now gradually being used as mulch also while tending to the garden. This is now productive land in so many different ways. In comparison, many of the neighboring backyards are expanses of lawn that offer little in the way of soil life (I know because of digging up the grass in our backyard – there is hardly any soil life in this sandy region) and yet still require fertiliser (usually synthetic) and does nothing for local insect and animal life. Not to mention that you don’t normally eat lawn, so why the dedication to it?