12 January 2011

Farm Research

This is the season for reading. With 20 degree days, howling wind, and snow cover there is every incentive to spend as much time as possible sitting with our feet to the fire, a cat in our lap, and a book in our hands. Or, in my case of late, a computer hugged close for warmth by the Jack Tar.

I am sticking to my promise not to go planting the lower garden this year. This is despite a new garden catalog full of glossy photos and fantastical claims appearing in the post box most days. I will not succumb! The seeds I planted a few days ago are starting to come up.... slowly. They are old seed after all.

Instead of planting I am PLANNING. The first step to this is to fill my head with good ideas and book knowledge until I have enough information to set a course of action. Last night it was the basics of Biodynamic gardening and the Biodynamic Standard as set by Demeter International. Unlike what I had been told, there IS a legal definition to this term and Demeter is what has set that standard since 1928. They are incredibly strict so if you buy something with their certification you can feel good about its quality.

That said, I don't think we'll be going down the all-homeopathic route just yet. I'd like to read Dr. Rudolph Steiner's actual lectures where he postulated these principles and judge for myself what he's telling me about farms as systems. The holistic organic movement (as distinguished from the USDA program) also owes its' philosopy to this man's thoughts by way of the Rodale Institute which opened in 1947. I'm looking forward to exploring their website in great depth at my soonest opportunity.

Right now I am working my way through the helpful pamphlets available on the National Sustainable Argriculture Information Service website. So far, I have read three of these. For all you folks who would like to use fewer insecticides I would certainly recommend their "Biointensive Integrated Pest Management" and "Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control" information. You can find them here. What both of them come down to is this:

Plant borders to feed the beneficial insects, leave a little mess for the spiders, learn about your pests, practice thoughtful plant rotations, and only use added controls when the cost of crop loss exceeds the cost of treatment.

That's my book report and update on what I've been up to.

Mr. Fuzzy has been inventing new swear words.... he's installing a cork floor in my studio this week. As with everything in household improvement, it is not going as smoothly as planned.

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