Sunday, May 26, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
|brush has been raked from under the trees and is ready for chopping|
The brush residue which is left behind is a great way to add valuable organic matter to the soil. Especially when it is done every year. Slowly this residue will get broken down by the living biota in the soil. Bacteria, microbes, earth worms, etc are constantly working on these chopped up branches in various stages of degradation. This process releases all the nitrogen that our apple orchards need, puts carbon back into our soil, and helps fuel the "living soil" here at Butternut Farm which leads to a more sustainable farm system.
According to research done by Alan Lasko in New York apple orchards (Cornell coop ext.). A typical acre of high density apple orchard, similiar to the ones we have here at Butternut Farm, removes almost 20 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. 12 tons by the trees and 8 tons by the grass sod. Multiple that by the 6.5 acres of apple orchards that we have here and that is 130 tons of carbon dioxide that our apple orchards are removing from the atmosphere every year. If for no other that alone is a good reason to by local apples!
|Just chopped apple brush. This mechanical break down of the prunings is the first step in the digestion of this great food for our soil.|
|Just after brush chopping. By harvest all this residue will be pulled into the grass sod and be barely noticeable|
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Strawberries! Such a curious name when you think about it. Why is the word "Straw" in the name of this berry which grows on plants so close to the ground? I imagine the reason is that these close to the ground growing berries really benefit from mulch being applied on and around the plants. Since straw is the most commonly used mulch then the name became such. I can't imagine them being referred to as "Pine needle berries" or "Saw dust berries", two other materials which have been used as a mulch for these plants. Those names just don't have the same attractive ring to them.
Mulch serves many purposes for the plants: Insulation during the cold winter months is probably the most important! Especially on a low snow year. Deep cold can damage the crowns and root systems of these plants and have a big impact on production. This is why we put the straw directly on top of the plants just before winter sets in. Hopefully we have timed it just before a rain or snow event to settle the straw, so that the next windy day does not blow the 400 bales into the adjacent apple orchard. With the equipment that we have here at Butternut Farm this task can take less than a day for three people to cover our 2 acres of pick your own strawberries. I can't imagine doing all that work by hand!