Soil Health

  1. What’s Up With Your Soil?

    How well do you know the soil that grows your food? Do you know whether your soil is “healthy” or “unhealthy” (or somewhere in between)? Even the most advanced growers will admit that there is always more to learn about the soil and how to nurture nutrients, biota, microorganisms and soil structure. Every year brings new opportunity to learn more...
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  2. Fall Cover Crops: How to Plan, Establish and Incorporate

    Why Plant Fall Cover Crops? A cover crop of winter rye emerging in early fall. Fall is the most common, and arguably the most important, time to sow cover crops. When the window for getting new cash crops in the ground closes, the window for sowing overwintering or winterkill cover crops begins. For some regions this can be as early...
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  3. 5 Water Retention Methods for Organic Growers

    Even if you don’t live in a drought-prone area, water retention is advantageous for any growing space. Vegetables require copious amounts of water to grow to their ideal eating size, and even in humid climates where moisture is plentiful farms must use surprising amounts of water for irrigation to achieve ideal results. Good Heart Farmstead in Worcester, VT uses permanent...
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  4. Creating a Stale Seed Bed with Solarization

    Stale seed beds are beds in which weed seeds have been allowed to germinate, and then are killed before direct-seeding or transplanting your crop. Creating stale seed beds can save you time cultivating by getting rid of the weeds before you direct-seed or transplant your crop, and at Good Heart Farmstead this is one of our main weed control practices...
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  5. Summer-Sown Cover Crops: How to Plan, Establish and Incorporate

    Why Summer-Sown? Buckwheat (left) and BMR Sorghum-Sudangrass F1 (right). When the summer is your prime harvesting season (as it is for growers in the north), or your short rest before another growing season (as it is for growers in the south), it can be easy to marginalize anything other than cash crops in favor of the things that need your...
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  6. No Bare Ground: Planning Your Cover Crops to Maximize Their Benefits

    The healthy-sized nodules on the roots of these field peas indicate that the plant has been fixing nitrogen in the soil. (Photo credit: Becky Maden.) I can tell you all the reasons why it is best for my body to eat well, sleep well, and exercise, but many days, my task-oriented brain takes over and I shove self-care to the...
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  7. Soil Test in the Fall for Next Year's Fertility

    Each September morning is a little darker, a little cooler, and a little dewier as the earth wraps its way towards another autumn. Although you may be tired, ragged and bleary-eyed from a hot, dry season, autumn is the ideal time to turn your remaining energy towards next year's soil fertility plan. The first step towards a soil fertility plan...
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  8. Growing Better Flavor: How to Improve Brix for a Tastier Harvest

    If you tend a garden or farm field and grow your own food, you may have noticed there’s a distinct difference in flavor between what you harvest out of your own patch and what you buy in the grocery store. You might ascribe this taste difference to a placebo effect (“It just feels better to know I grew this carrot!”...
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  9. Earth Day

    On Earth Day, we like to take the time to reflect on how our work with organic seed fits into the framework of environmental and climate literacy. Although on the surface Earth Day may seem unrelated to agriculture – rather, you might wonder, isn’t it about a return to nature, protecting wildlife and natural habitats, recycling and cutting down on...
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  10. Plant Positive Potting Soil

    Two-yard sling bags of potting soil at Vermont Compost Company. When I began my agricultural career at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, I was excited to see a two-yard sling bag of Vermont Compost Company Fort Vee outside of the farm’s propagation house. As a native Vermonter, I have a lot of pride in my home state, but...
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