Bio-Diversity and Soil Building

We strive for as much bio-diversity as possible ... and then just a little more.  No farm can have too much bio-diversity, and the more we can embrace, the healthier will be our crops, our environment and our personal lives.  Mono-culture must be avoided at all costs, as natural systems for millennia have always been bio-diverse.

Growing systems should incorporate as many different plant types as possible.  Having stripes of oats and then peas, or oats and peas, or emmer wheat and then a strip of barley are all natural systems and promote healthier soils and plants.

Crop rotation is essential for soil health, which obviously directly relates to plant health.  Keep maps of your growing areas, no matter how small or large.  Rotate on a minimum of a three year cycle, and the longer the cycles between similar crop plantings the better.  

Fertility and soil health can be naturally built with a strategy of green manure plow downs and rotation of farm animals.  Legumes of any type are beneficial to your soil health.  We particularly like a mix of field peas and a tall grain, like older varieties of oats.  Let them grow out but when the grain becomes "milky", then plow down the whole green manure crop.  Peas, like other legumes capture nitrogen from the air and fix it to their roots - pull one out sometime and see the small nodules on the roots.  We feed our horses (herd that fluctuates between 15 and 30) in the field in winter, from a horse drawn sleigh.  Having a strategy of feeding animals on your fields is a natural process, as the animals will manure the field as they eat and scrounge.  Rotation of chickens behind cows or horses is another very natural process, while also enriching the soil through their manures.

A short profile of the bio-diversity we enjoy on our farm:

  • Ancient Wheat - five varieties
  • Ancient Hulless Barley (two varieties), Winter Rye, Oats (two varieties)
  • Field Peas - Green and Yellow
  • Carrots - eight varieties
  • Beets - eight varieties
  • Lettuce - four varieties
  • Fennel - two varieties
  • Radish - eleven varieties
  • Garden Peas - three varieties
  • Cabbage - seven varieties
  • Turnips - seven varieties
  • Summer Squash - six varieties
  • Winter Squash - six varieties
  • Kale - three varieties
  • Collard - four varieties
  • Tomatoes - seven varieites
  • Herbs, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Celery, Melon, Cucumbers, Onions, Mustard Greens
  • Round Potatoes - seven varieties
  • Fingerling Potatoes - three varieties
  • Garlic - twenty plus varieties
 © Twin Meadows Organics Farm 2014