Monday, February 22, 2010

Ingredients: 1 Part Tractor, 2 Parts Topsoil


Yes that is a real live beautiful tractor in its natural habitat...the Farm.

Just to give some perspective on a NYC farmer, it took me about six tries to remember how to spell tractor correctly...obviously the city is getting to me.

Saturday was a big day on the farm as we learned how to properly make topsoil for soil blocks. These blocks are going to be used for seedlings to begin growth and eventually they will get transplanted to their respective beds. The ones we made today were specifically for onions.

As you can see it was a lot like making brownies although the batter did not taste as good (Warning: do not attempt to ingest topsoil just because it looks delicious).

Captain Jack (our fearless leader and head farmer) started by explaining that making topsoil is basically attempting to simulate what the earth does naturally over thousands of years (not an easy task). The major keys are to create a balanced mix of compost and other materials to create space for air, water and root growth.

1. We started off by cutting open a few packs of Peat Moss, which helps the topsoil absorb water and nutrients.

2. Add Vermiculite, which feels, but does not taste like marshmallows.
Vermiculite has this great accordion type look with various porous layers which helps air and water get in.

3. Add baked clay, which is great for absorbing water.

4. Add Pearlite, which are very bright white dots you see in most potted plant's soil. Additionally we put in some food for the soil as well: Kelp, Azomite and crab meal, which all add nutrients.

The final addition was the Biochar, which was made onsite. The Biochar adds Carbon and Silica to the soil, which many people believe can help speed up and strengthen plant growth. We made two batches, one with Biochar and one without to test this hypothesis.

Once everything was added, Jack used the tractor while Matt and I took shovels to mix everything together. Adding water here is important to create the proper consistency.

WARNING found on the tractor: I mean this is the funniest warning label since the
"Piso Mojado" sign.

Topsoil Ingredients: Compost, Peat Moss, Vermiculite, Baked clay, Azomite, Kelp, Crab meal, Pearlite (Biochar if you choose...I would choose, the stuff is awesome), and water.

1 comment:

  1. i lol'd, but it's missing some JAZZ HANDS