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.
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.
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 kindergartners…and who doesn’t want that?