This winter, while planning and dreaming, one aspect of farming has particularly captured our attention and excitement. The nutrient density of the crops we grow and the remineralization of our soils have been almost constantly on our minds and usually on the tips of our tongues. Our biggest inspiration has come from reading Steve Solomen’s new book The Intelligent Gardener. Other key influencers have been Dan Kittredge and The Bionutrient Association, and old texts we’ve downloaded freely from the SoilandHealth.org website. Basically, the idea being that most soils, whether managed organically or not, have had the minerals harvested off of them but not put back. Especially not put back in the proper ratios. But, applying minerals back to your soil in “ideal” ratios (though it’s unlikley that humans have figured out those ideals…but this refers to the ideal – to the best of our knowledge) creates healthier soils which creates healthier plants which creates healthier human beings and other animals.
Both Bryan and I really enjoyed reading The Intelligent Gardener and have discussed it with a few of our other farming friends who have then read it and become inspired as well.
For me, especially coming from a Holistic Nutrition background, anything that could increase the nutrition of the crops we grow for the humans and animals eating from our soils, is super exciting. Balancing our soils to decrease insect pests and diseases for our plants is also a big one since we’re not really into any pesticides, including organically-approved ones (mostly because we really don’t want to be spraying something every week and after it rains).
Our soil is everything. In our Broadfork Farm vision statement, we say “We believe the health of communities is rooted in healthy people eating healthy food grown in healthy soil.” It all comes down to the soil.
Well, what does this all mean on a practical level? All of the areas of our farm were soil tested last fall for our Nutrient Management Plan. Luckily, the testing method used was the Mehlich III method which is what The Intelligent Gardener recommends. There are charts at the back of the book to help you figure out how much of different minerals your soil requires as well as how to figure out the appropriate amount of various soil amendments. This book was actually written for home gardeners and neighbourhood soil analysts, which almost made me think it wouldn’t be relevant for us. But the subtitle of Growing Nutrient-Dense Food is what inspired me to order it.
So, we have figured out our mineral needs for this first year, chosen the organically-approved soil amendments that meet our needs as well as our ideals, and sourced where we will buy them. This will be an added expense but one we feel is well worth it.
In our attempts to improve the health of our soils and thereby our plants, we are also going to try to increase the paramagnetism of our soil with the use of basalt rock dust, and apply the biodynamic preparations this year for the first time. If anyone has any advice or thoughts, we are wide open to accepting it!
All of this newness will be crazy fun for us on the farm this season. We will definitely keep you informed as to how it goes and how we feel eating more nutrient dense foods!
Thanks for sharing this. We too have read Steve Solomen’s book over the winter and I finally have all my amendments together to make our first application this week. It is difficult to justify the cost, but I would like to get some tissue samples of some of our vegetables to verify they extra cost and time are worth it.