Sunday, March 11, 2012

Learning, so much learning

Yesterday was my first horticulture class at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Back in November I found out I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in their first ever Beginning Farmers program. There are two tracks - Horticulture and Livestock. It is a year long program, and we 'graduate' in October.

I learned so much. My head is full and tired (I drove to Poteau, OK and back in the same day). We learned about Organic Certification...what a process! Biointensive and bioextensive methods of farming. Different methods of starting transplants; many different types of cover crops; and compost, compost, compost. Below are some photo highlights of the day; next time I'll have to bring my real camera.

 Beautiful southeast Oklahoma.

 Compost Trace Mineral Amendment - going to have to mix up some of this for our compost!

 Radish as cover crop. This particular type of radish is related to a Daikon radish.

Bio-extensive method of cover crops at a large scale. There are 4 plots at almost a half-acre each. They test many different types of cover crops, methods of cutting and are moving more and more to the no-till method of gardening. The no till method involves cutting the cover crop, leaving it in place and then planting transplants. The 'green' material acts as mulch and food for the transplants, and keeps out weeds. These plots were amazing! So much beneficial insect life - bumble bees, honey bees, and the heartiest ladybugs (and their larvae) I've ever seen.

Compost, compost, compost.  This pile is made up of just sweet potato clippings (mulched with a mower) and corn stalks. The middle of the pile was nearly 70 degrees!

Biochar Reactor. We're going to learn a lot more about this, and see it in action next month at the Resilient Farmer Workshop.

Bio-extensive method scaled down to our 'urban farm' size. We've been playing around with the bio-extensive method of cover crops, and intend to do more of this in the future.

George Kuepper demonstrating how to do a soil test.

Inside the greenhouse - giant tubs of Comfrey, Stinging Nettle and Horseradish. They use the Comfrey and Stinging Nettle to make a fermented plant juice.

I didn't get any photos of the transplant starting session. It was late, I was tired, and in a daze. We got to use a soil blocker, and paper potmaker. And they very generously shared some heirloom peppers, tomato, and eggplant seeds with all of us.

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