If a picture is worth a thousand words, then here’s a story-in-pix that should be worth a good ten grand: Woody Waste -> Black Gold PS to the story: We’ve still got mountains of woody waste lying around… And now we’re back into heavy pruning once again! Little branches of young soft fruit trees are not such a problem, but gnarly old wood like we have coming out of our orange orchard is another story.
Tree-Huggers that we are, it’s always hard to cut living wood, but -as Nick Lowe put it tunefully, if a bit too cutesilly- “You’ve got to be cruel to be kind,” if you hope to enjoy a good harvest. Long story to tell about this, complete with annotated pictures that i’ve uploaded to this photo album at Imgur… In the Land of Fruits & Nuts … but for the purposes of this blog, i’ll be brief.
Having experimented with many forms of soil testing over the years, from simple DIY jar tests to the most sophisticated lab tests and everything in between, i can’t say as i’ve yet found a method that is both sufficiently rigorous AND agile enough that we can commit to doing on a broad enough scale and long enough timetable to inform good decision-making here on the farm. That being said: this “Sector Mentor for Soils” app looks pretty promising on the face of it -and comes well-recommended by my Regrarians Workplace colleague Stephen Barrow, so i might give it a try…
While government-approved organic certification standards are a good thing to have, they are by no means a guarantee that the produce under the label is of the highest nutritional quality. Indeed, as anyone who’s seen the film “Keeping the Soil in Organic” must admit, the standard -at least in USA (i.e. USDA Ceritified Organic)- is so broad as to admit of some very unhealthful practices… And because those practices are essential to the profitiability of those big agri-businesses that have lobbied successfully to protect them, they are in fact coming to increasingly dominate the organic food supply chain.