If there’s one rule I am following while attempting to bring the soil here back to life after decades of neglect, its this: keep it covered. All the little crawlers, fungi, and beneficial bacteria present in healthy soil can’t stand direct sun, too dry, or too wet. Like us they respond quite nicely to sturdy shelter, delicious food, and good company.
These under-sung life givers simply can’t thrive when churned up into powder by the tiller tines. But, that’s what conventional and even some organic agriculture does over and over and over again. I see it on my daily commute. The fields are plowed, then disked, then artificially fertilized, then planted, then herbi-pesti-fungi-cided, then harvested (yum!), then left to wash away during our 40 inches of winter rain.
Its insane. Its murderous. There’s barely anything living above or below the surface. How do we expect the food we rely upon to do well in that barren environment? Might as well be a desert here in the temperate rainforest.
Anyway, back to Bellfern. Our soil is highly compacted, highly acidic, clayey, and otherwise starved for nutrients. So, I’ve been adding mulch where its bare. For this I am using what I’ve got: scythe-cut-hay and pulled weeds mostly. I’d love to use wood chips as they don’t disappear as quickly, but I don’t yet have a source.
Where the ground has been disturbed whether by rooting pig snouts or my magna grecia hoe and when the temp is right, I’ll spread a nice thick cover crop. This is a lush mix of soil building plants that I can let go or cut down for a green manure. Ours includes daikon radish, clover, buckwheat, vetch, and other quick growing nitrogen fixing, pollinator attracting, or naturally tilling plants.
Hilariously, or perhaps disturbingly, the title for this post comes from the Sherwin Williams logo which shows what appears to be a bloody bath given to our globe. Cover the Earth? Yes, I believe I will.
P.s: Dear SWP, it is high time for a re-brand!