Sometime early last season we crossed the 500 yard mark of compost applied to our gardens. To put this in another way, all of our garden beds have received 6” or more of compost at this point!
We farm this way because
Living soil=Healthy plants=Happy Humans & Positive Change.
By not tilling and just layering compost on our growing area, all the fungal networks that live symbiotically with most all garden plants (and plants for that matter) stay alive and intact. These fungal networks that have much greater reach and capacity to dissolve nutrients in the surrounding soil, merge with plant roots and a beautiful exchange occurs, that has only recently been studied and understood by western science. The plants give the fungus liquid carbon and the fungus give the plants micronutrients, each one specializing in its role and coming together in this exchange to create this quite magical living network. The plant's access to balanced nutrition also creates stronger immune defense to pests and disease, and in turn provides us with much healthier food to eat. Synthetic fertilizers and tillage put a kibosh on this whole process. This is one of the reasons why we practice no till* gardening and use compost and natural fertilizers derived from plants and animal manures.
All the compost and fungal hyphae also give the soil a super water holding capacity. Last year under moderate drought conditions we only watered our gardens to get seeds to germinate or transplants to take hold. This is because on a single acre for every one percent increase in soil organic matter (i.e soil humus, woody material), the water holding capacity grows by 2,000 gallons! All the soil microorganisms and fungal networks create pockets, channels, and tunnels where water can accumulate rather than wash through. At this point our gardens may well hold 8-10,000 gallons of extra water they did not before we started improving them with copious amounts of compost and wood chip mulch. There is a saying in regenerative agriculture that when someone asks a regenerative farmer how much rain they got, the response is “all of it!” No surface water runs off the farm washing nutrients away with it. The soil is porous and spongy, so all the moisture that falls stays right here recharging groundwater and making our land more resilient. This improvement has huge implications as rainfall patterns are changing and we are more likely to get periods of massive deluges and dry spells.
If you want to learn more about Regenerative Farming three of the best books concerning this subject that we have read in the past 6 months explain all of this in much greater detail are:
Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massey
For Love of the Soil by Nicole Masters
Mycorrhizal Planet by Michael Phillips