The Beer Garden is the nickname of my small farm parcel.  On April 1, 2013 (April Fools Day) I began to soil build.  When you know that you are growing a hungry crop, you know that you need to build your nutrients in as part of the plan.  So from day 1, spent hops from the award winning Big Island Brewhaus were used to amend the soil.  I am doing no-till, so the hops are dug into the growing piles.  Much like a 1/4 acre compost heap, it takes some attention and care to see that the soil stays healthy and that your microbes and worms can thrive.  People laugh when I say that it is a huge effort to “turn” a 1/4 acre.  Remember that each time I turn the farm, my zero-waste principles are at play.  Sure, it is easier to rip up plastic ground cloth, roll it into a ball, and drop it into our landfills, then they over till, and spray. That is one strategy, where you may save time there, but in the big picture, you are not saving anything. I do the opposite of that.  Each foot will either have a plant growing there, or will be used as a re-rooting place where vines will be buried under the homemade soil and get another hit of nutrients.

Brewery waste
Spent hops mash fresh from the brewer poured on as mulch

Yes, the other method can be done in a day, but your soil is on borrowed time, while mine is surging forward.  My labor of hauling and lifting create a nice, rich soil that holds water.  In a drought…that is worth gold.  So think before we discard.  Make connections with these local businesses who would like to help their farmers.  Yes “their” farmers.  Farmers belong to the community in the best possible way.

Here is a video where I explain a bit more about amending with fermented fish and brewery waste

I always do the warning about hops and dogs…they are poisonous to dogs, so watch your pet.  Many dogs have zero interest, but be cautious.

The image says it all.  The additions have changed the soil dramatically.
The image says it all. The additions have changed the soil dramatically.

So think about how you can make super soil.  This farm is small, but my soil is mighty.  Be a steward, and you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest, reduced pests, and you will be a hero to the kindergarteners…and who doesn’t want that?

Written by squash and awe

My love of food and cultures have taken me around the world, dropping me into my current location in Hawaii. I have been loving cooking, photography, gardening, baking, and outdoor adventuring, since back when I was filling a Girl Scout sash with badges. My locations may change, and my activities continue to grow in number, but deep down inside, I still love curling up with a good book, squealing about in a classic car, and making stick-to-your-ribs meals out of homegrown goods.

3 comments

  1. thanks for the advice and encouragement, you covered almost all my failures in short order. only time i made money, was 40 years ago, growing the wrong crop at the right time. glad i love what i do. keith

  2. I like your no waste method.After all,we all take something out of our gardens and farms(harvests,prunings,sometimes infected crops and weeds that might resprout or reseed even when pulled.Having connections in the community for vegetable,fruit,fish and any other useful “garbage”is wonderful.I’m always surprised by how happy many businesses are to have you haul away there “junk”.The pulp from a juice bar makes great compost and even though the owner has a pile its way more than he can use.The thing is to keep looking.A pet shop that specialized mostly in pigeons was glad to see me hual away there manure but closed down.I keep my eyes peeled for opportunities.Its just amazing what I’ve located that has helped improve the soil,at little or no cost.Keep up your good work.I like your spirit of experimentation.You can learn a lot from those experiments.Good Luck!

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