Building Healthy Soil Communities: Evaluating Soil Texture

Well, it has been a couple weeks since my last farm blog. And writing about farming becomes as linear of a task as everything else that needs to be done on the farm. So, I will have to admit this blog is weather induced…..it’s raining outside.

Sweet spring rain turning into a tumultuous downpour that makes Oregon such a great place to love plants. If you live in Oregon, you know spring is for warm sunshine, sideways rain, hard hail, and a rainbow finale all within a five-minute span. Nature is exhilarating! And it is within these short windows that my long-term tasks are completed for future harvest success.

On our farm, we track seasonal phenology. This is the term for watching our natural cycles in a specific location, to make daily decisions. When making farming decisions, I consider things like average rainfall, mountain snowpack, relative humidity, prevailing winds, day length, sun exposure, and heat units influence each crop cycle. Continue reading “Building Healthy Soil Communities: Evaluating Soil Texture”

Building Healthy Soil Communities for Medicinal Herbs

My first organic farm mentor used to refer to topsoil as “skin of the Earth.”.And each time this fine layer is broken by plow, nature’s response to heal by covering its wound with a green bandage of plants. This moment of healing becomes an opportunity. A chance for farmers to blend their own mixture of plants into a beneficial poultice.

This is where “cover crops” come in. Both preventative and restorative, cover crops are specific species of plants proven to restore soil fertility. On our farm, I make long-term rotational plantings of cover crops such as alfalfa, rye, clover, oats, buckwheat, vetch and sorghum key components of our fertility program.

But how do cover crops work? Why do they help? And why is topsoil so important anyway?

Continue reading “Building Healthy Soil Communities for Medicinal Herbs”

What’s the difference between a root and a rhizome? And where do bulbs and tubers fit in?

dandelion_root2

When you look at a plant in the ground, some parts are easy to spot. Most kids could do it. Hey, there’s the flower. That there is a leaf. Done and done. But below ground, things get a bit more confusing. There are roots, sure, but rhizomes too. And some plants like tubers and bulbs exist almost entirely underground. So what are all these things?

Well, let’s break it down. Continue reading “What’s the difference between a root and a rhizome? And where do bulbs and tubers fit in?”

Bees prefer fresh Chamomile. So do we.

A bee pollinates Chamomile

 

You might recognize Chamomile from its picture on tea boxes. It has a beautiful white flower around a golden cone. We grow it ourselves on our farm in Josephine County, Oregon. Just a few rows of Chamomile in the valley under the Siskiyou mountains.

Bees love Chamomile. You can hear the fields before you step into them. The buzz of thousands of bees. It’s magical. Continue reading “Bees prefer fresh Chamomile. So do we.”