Saturday, November 22, 2008

Building Organic Matter in Alabama

This is an uncommon site in Alabama!
Actual soil organic matter in an agricultural field!

You can see the dark, rich organic matter in the top 2 cm of the soil profile. This is the result of 3 years of no-till with high biomass cover crops and organic mulches. Though it might not seem like a lot, keep in mind that it take about 500 years to build one inch of soil...

This is what can happen when you don't till your field. Tillage turns plant residue into the soil, accelerating decomposition. In Alabama, our climate is usually thought to be too hot and humid to allow for appreciable organic matter accumulation in agricultural fields, but if you grow lots of biomass and stop tilling, you can get some good organic matter accumulation.

Taking a soil sample...

...and fractionating the sample by depth.
The samples will be analyzed for nutrient content, microbial respiration, nitrogen mineralization rates, and aggregate stability.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Collard Harvest 2008

Today we harvested about 3000 lbs of collard greens
from the final harvest of my experiment in Tallassee, AL.

The collard field, about 0.3 acres.

It was about 28F (-2C) the night before.
By the time we started the harvest, there was still ice on the collards.
It was cold,
but they say that collards taste better after a good freeze!

But it didn't take long to warm up.
This is Jordan, a student worker, hand-harvesting.

This is the smallest truckload we brought to the Food Bank.
We donate almost all of the produce to the East Alabama Food Bank.
Today, we donated approximately 2300 lbs of fresh collard greens,
a TON of collards -- literally,
just in time for Thanksgiving!

Off-loading the collards at the Food Bank into large cardboard "totes".

Weighing the collards at the Food Bank by forklift.
All the donations get weighed.
Each tote has a net weight of about 300 lbs.
We filled more than 7 of these totes.

The Food Bank will be busy distributing the collards to needy people throughout East Alabama
over the next several days.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tailgating vs GA

It's freezing out but we're still tailgating against Georgia! Note the heater on the table and the game in the back. And we're actually winning! War Eagle!
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Planted Onions and Garlic Today

Finally got around to amending the soil in my raised bed this morning.
I used the worm castings from our worm farm,
and lots of bags of manure, compost, topsoil and peat.
Here's the flat of onions that I produced from seed.
I've been trying to kill them for about two or three months now,
so I'm glad to finally have them in the ground.
It's hard to see the onion transplants here. I'll post a better photo when they get larger.
Also planted garlic today, too...
Some exotic variety from Seeds of Change.

Hand-Made Pasta

We went over to some friends' house, and was surprised to see them making pasta...
By hand!

These photos are in reverse order.
Sorry bout that.
Blogspot needs to make it easier to edit blogs.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Collecting cow pies

We're collecting soil under cow pies this morning. We'll see how the nutrients move thru the soil profile
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