Soil health at the Cloverleaf

Fall is the time for getting things ready for the next year. I love the feeling of putting the farm to bed, covering the garlic with straw, planting cover crop and peas, and bringing  the final harvest in. We are so glad that the rains have finally come, putting out the Camp Fire, and germinating the cover crop. The tiny green shoots are coming up and in the spring, we hope to have a lush cover crop we can mow down and let the earthworms munch on.

katie compost spreading

We have an interesting soil prep method we’ve been playing around with at the Cloverleaf – no-till no-chemical organic farming! We mow the cover crop, spread compost directly on top of it, and then cover with a reusable landscape fabric. We let the ground mulch for at least a month, ideally 2 or 3 months, and then remove the fabric and plant. When we plant our strawberries, we just leave the fabric in place and cut permanent holes in the fabric, and then plant into the holes. The landscape fabric can get used again and again — so far it’s lasted 5 years and it still looks great!

soil probe

We got a Healthy Soils grant from CDFA to look at our no-till soil practices and also to plant two new hedgerows at the farm. We are going to soil sample every year to look at organic matter, soil chemical properties, respiration, compaction and evaluate whether the health of our soils are improving over time. We’re excited to be measuring this and we will share the results here as we learn them!

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