Methods

Hugelkultur mound - beginning stages

Our methods of cultivation are rooted in natural farming and
permaculture. They include:

  • No-tillage sheet mulching — Layers of various types of organic matter placed on top of the existing undisturbed ground.
  • Hugelkultur mounds — Mounds of woody debris covered by manure and/or soil, which combined with natural branch development (rather than traditional pruning) allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes, colder climates and harsher winters; require little to no irrigation; offer advantages of tilling (such as aerating) without the disadvantages (destroying soil life) . The mounds last up to 25 years; regular beds last 5-10 years. More information.
  • Ramial chipped branch wood — A thin layer of soil from the forest covered by 1-2 inches of woodchips.
  • Hay/Straw bale instant gardens — Bales are set out, watered and innoculated with compost tea 2-3 times. For seeds, the bales are covered with a thin layer of soil and seeded like usual. For transplants, small holes are created in the bales and filled with compost or soil, and then planted.

We employ several techniques to extend our growing season:

  • Floating row covers (a.k.a. remay) — Thin, semi-transparent white blankets.
  • Cloches — Reused two-liter pop bottles set on top of transplants.
  • Cold frames — Old windows on wooden box frames, angled towards the sun and set into the ground for further insulation.
  • A passively heated, earth-sheltered greenhouse / chicken coop being constructed in Fall 2011. Contact us if you’re interested in participating: greenshireecofarms@gmail.com or 705-879-4207

Our pest management practices include:

  • Companion planting — Placing certain plants whose odours and root exudates either repel insects or mask the presence of nearby crops. Also using plants like dill to attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps.
  • Incorporating wild plants — Letting wild plants into the garden creates more natural diversity, which creates homes and niches for beneficial insects like spiders, wasps, and ground beetles.
  • Hand picking — Suitable for small insect populations.
  • Soap/garlic spray — Soapy water/garlic juice mixture sprayed on plant leaves to protect against defoliating insects and animals.
  • Floating row covers — Act a physical barrier against invading pests (e.g., flea beatles).
  • Mock beer traps — A mix of yeast, flour, sugar, and water which is poured into small dishes, and set out every 15-20 feet in the gardens. The slugs are attracted to the smell of the brew, and will usually choose it over even the tastiest vegetables.