soil improvement

post by: Jim Fields March 3, 2013

Central Oregon Sand.   What we have for topsoil here is officially called Deschutes Sandy Loam.  It is about 70% sand by the best soil test done on the farm.  To grow much I have always made compost and added as much as I could to the soil in the spring or fall as time allowed.  Over time this has increased our soil organic matter to around 5%. More than doubling the original number.  All the while tilling and growing for hundreds of people.  For compost ingredients we started with Horse manure.  Most easily found at riding stables where they look the other way while you hand fork it into what ever you brought to pickup with.  I have used mostly a pickup when I was hauling horse manure to the farm but I’ve seen mercedes wagons with carefully laid plastic sheets loading up all that they could hold (not much).  We found that by adding some hop waste from the local brewery the horse manure would start to compost faster.  And we like the smell of the hops and the guys making the beer were a good bunch too.  From my research it seemed that coffee grounds would be a good addition to the pile so we gathered them from a number of coffee roaster/shops.  They worked really well too.  A few years ago we had the oppportunity to compost food waste from a number of restaurants.  The food waste works well too but isn’t as pleasant as Beer or hops and coffee grounds.   I say all this in explanation for what do I do in the winter time when I can’t farm.  Well I am farming for the future by doing all this composting throught the year.  Hope your enjoying your winter too.Jim