Do you remember how I said on my first blog post that part of the reason I am doing this blog is for an independent study course? Well this is my first post on the super awesome things I have been learning in my free online permaculture class. But don't worry, it wont be boring because it's permaculture and that is about as awesome as it gets!
It's not exactly a class so much as a free collection of lectures from different classes organized into different topics. (If you're interested in learning more about permaculture, I would highly recommend checking it out here!) So far my favorite lectures are done by Larry Korn who was a student of and worked under Masanobu Fukuoka. If you don't know who that is, you should find out! He basically started permaculture by observing the plants, land, and animals seeing in what ways they thrived.
The very first thing that Larry stressed was how important it is to not turn the soil, which is something that farmers do everywhere, by plowing, disking or tilling and often all three over the same piece of land again and again. You see, soil is an entire ecosystem all its own with trillions of microorganisms and organic matter and bugs and stuff, so when you turn the entire ecosystem on top of itself, bad things happen, just as bad things would happen if our houses were turned upside-down. One of the worst things that happens when we turn the soil is the introduction of oxygen. All the little bacteria and living things need oxygen, and all the decomposing organic matter (dead plants and roots and fallen leaves) need oxygen to break down, but when there is too much in the system they essentially get burned up. We're the same way, we need oxygen to survive, but too much is poisonous. The organisms die and the organic matter is used up faster than it can be replenished. Not to mention, going back and forth on the soil with a large tractor compacts all the soil underneath creating an impenetrable layer where water can't drain and organisms can't live.
So what is the big deal with the bacteria and microorganisms? I mean, who cares if they are there or not? As it turns out, they play a really big role in the health of the soil and the plants that we want to grow in it. All of the nutrients that plants need to grow comes from these organisms which is why industrial farms need to add so much fertilizer, they have destroyed the soil ecosystem by plowing and other poor practices.
So, if plowing is so bad and turns out to be harmful to the plants that we want to grow, why do we do it? Partly because we don't know how else to do it and partly because it's easy. It is a fast way to get rid of all the plants that aren't wanted so they don't have to compete for space or nutrients. Now companies make ridiculous amounts of money providing fertilizer that they want everyone to think that there is only one way to grow food so that they can continue making money off of us (I could rant about how much I dislike fertilizer companies for days!).
I'm realizing that I could go on and on about all this stuff for much longer than I thought, so I'm going to have to break this up into a few different blogs...
On another quick note, I'm so sorry that I have been so off schedule, I have been spending this whole week out on the farm helping build three big hoop houses and camping out. I'm going to have to write a whole other blog on my first camp out of the season cause it was AMAZING!!
We are going to grow so many tomatoes!!