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  • Keri Dickson

    September 18, 2021 at 9:37 am

    I started off my regenerative growing journey after my first year market gardening in a no-till system I learned from Conor Crickmore’s course left me with a pest for nearly every veggie I was growing. Not to bash Conor’s course it is fabulous in many ways, but the soil management portion did not work well in my situation. In response to my pest/disease problems and googling how to solve I came across Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web course, so I spent the winter taking the course and making thermophilic compost piles to use on my market garden this year. The thermophilic compost seemed to work well on my perennial crops like apple & pear trees, roses and strawberries. Not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that they are all from the plant family Rosacaea…. or if perennials really do well with this compost type. But this compost on my annuals was not good they looked like they were suffering…. I turned my composting system into static vermicompost piles when the thermophilic was not working…. Initially the vermicompost was fabulous for my annuals, they started looking great and I saw a huge reduction in pest pressure on beets and swiss chard leaf miner damage almost went away completely, and carrot rust fly larva damage on my carrots went from 80% plus down to almost nothing, as well as root maggot on my radishes…. So I really thought I had it figured out…. But later in the season my crops started going too vegetative and now my root veggies (beets especially but carrots as well) have very small roots, compared to full size tops. I live on Vancouver Island Canada (high rain fall in fall, winter, spring) very dry Mediterranean like in summer, originally my soils were red – so I am assuming very oxidized. Some of my ideas for next year are… no manure in compost inputs, add more rock dusts to compost to help with micronutrients, drench soil with humic acid rock dust mixes this fall and next spring. Reduce down my seeding densities on the root crops, and also reduce my summer irrigation a bit. This fall my garden is going into winter full of plants, either veggies that can overwinter, or oats and buckwheat mix. I know fall is the time to really get biology regenerative systems going so I am thinking of adding one more 5 gallon bucket of my vermicompost to each bed prior to winter and mulching overtop with leaf mulch in hopes of increasing up the browns between the mix of compost and brown mulch. I too am struggling with the idea of sap testing as just so many different crops. I also just started taking Brix readings a week ago and all my readings on pretty much all of my annuals are right around 5, and on perennials seems to be about 8. Each time I do a foliar I am checking my Brix before and 24 hours later to see what is going to move the reading… But nothing yet. Also my foliars I am just applying with a watering can not spraying… Wondering if anyone has any suggestions. I am thinking of making up micronutrient chemical foliar to start next spring but I am a bit weary of adding too much of something if I am not doing a sap analysis first. I started off with the Soil Food Web education but due to the lack of information and help from them when it comes to implementing the knowledge in real life, I have become an avid follower of John Kempf, podcasts, webinars Plant Pyramid Course. Amazing, affordable and practical solutions for those of us figuring out how to navigate our farms into becoming Regenerative…. Finally an exciting time to be in agriculture… Thank you John Kempf and AEA for your generosity in terms of knowledge sharing, for reconnecting academia to agriculture, and making this education affordable – you are making an incredible impact on saving our planet and humanity! Apologies for the long winded story…