TLC for Soil and the Farm

When we’re sick we need a little tender loving care. A warm cup of tea, getting tucked under the covers, and a good rest can help us pull through a detoxifying process. Healing occurs when we strengthen our immune system and balance the etheric (plant-like) and astral (animal-like) forces in our bodies. We’ll drink plenty of water, eat fresh foods full of minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, and maybe use specially prepared herbs or homeopathic remedies.

It is similar with the soils in our gardens and farms, where the humus can be compared with the immune system. When we build up the soil humus (or strengthen our immune system), we lay the foundation for good health. Balancing the plant and animal forces on our farms for optimal humus production is the art of a healing agriculture.

A farm needs a balance of both crops and livestock. Too much of the plant energies leads to excessive growth, like cancer, and calls for the remedial effects of the animals, who transform the excess growth and excrete just what the plants need. Without this animal power the plant world eventually suffers. Of course, too many animals will result in too many plants being eaten, and an excess of fertilizer on the land. This is like too much nervous energy in a human, and requires the calming effect of having fewer animals so more plant growth happens. Observation and intuition can help us find the proper balance.

The cup of tea for our gardens is compost tea. By bubbling a double-handful of barrel compost, with a spoonful each of molasses, kelp, and humic acid in five gallons of warm, spring water for 18 hours, we propagate the beneficial microbes in the compost. These healing, humus-building microorganisms then reinoculate the soil and go to work when the tea is sprinkled on the garden or in the furrows.

Cover crops also build soil humus. Plants live by giving; soils are formed by the growth and decay of plants. We take advantage of this property of theirs by never leaving the soil bare. As soon as a spring or summer crop is harvested, buckwheat or cowpeas are planted, to be tilled in when they begin flowering. In the fall we plant grains, like wheat and rye, mixed with legumes such as peas and vetch, to be plowed in next spring. Tucking our beds under covers like these is a farmer’s way of giving the soil humus a little TLC.

But a rest is the best. Every few years we can simply allow our fields to grow back in a sod. By not tilling, fungal activity increases, and the thatch that forms at ground level is a humus builder deluxe. Grass, clover, and even weeds help a resting garden heal and gain strength.

Plenty of water is necessary for the microbial population’s thirst. We can feed them with rock powder and lime for balancing the minerals, and compost for their vitamins and enzymes. The live beings in the humus immobilize toxic substances in the soil and keep toxins from entering the food chain.

In biodynamics we use specially prepared yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, white oak bark, dandelion, and valerian in our compost piles to help with this healing effect. Homeopathically prepared sprays of horn manure, horn silica and horsetail also help balance the energies on the farm. But the best fertilizer for the farm is the farmer’s footsteps, and the humus that heals our land is a result of the farmer’s tender loving care.

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