As part of my commitment to the environment and sustainable organic farming, Frog Hollow Farm embraces composting.
- Proper composting creates organic material rich in beneficial microbes that eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers (one of the basic tenets of organic farming.)
- Application of compost reduces the need for chemical pesticides, which we don't use.
- Other benefits include the return of carbon to the soil (something that does not happen with chemical fertilizers).
- The return of other important minerals to the soil
- Nitrogen enrichment of the soil.
- There is also no build up of “garbage” vegetation from weeding and pruning,
- And less trash goes out from the kitchen to a landfill.
It Takes Careful Watching
To create the ideal product for me to apply to my trees, the composting process gets a lot of close attention. We carefully manage the organic contents, the temperature, the moisture levels, and the balance of fungi in our compost. I want to be sure all the elements come together.
First, the materials we put into our compost are carefully chosen to make sure they break down just right for what the orchard needs. Here are the 'secret' ingredients: coffee grounds and kitchen residues from our cafe and bakery; tree clippings and cover crops from the farm; and any fruit that doesn't get used or sold, as well as other organic materials available to us.
Next, we carefully monitor the temperature. If the compost gets too hot, some of the little critters will die resulting in compost that is less rich in nutrients. If it’s not hot enough, weed seeds and harmful pathogens are not entirely eliminated from the compost. Finding the right balance is crucial.
In addition, the moisture levels in the compost rows are also closely watched. The microbes and fungi responsible for healthy compost quickly die without enough water.
Also, I keep an eye on the overall mix of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and beneficial nematodes in our compost. Fruit trees prefer soil that’s rich in fungi, so it’s important that we encourage the right balance.
Just this year, that balance of microbes helped us avoid brown rot blossom blight. Brown rot is an infection of the flowers caused by a combination of warm temperatures and rain, which results in crop failure. After two years of applying compost generated onsite at the farm to the apricot trees, the biology of the soil is much healthier, creating a better balance of microbes, which strengthened the "immune system" of the trees and allows them to fight off potential infections. This year the apricot trees were able to fight off the blossom blight, giving us a bumper crop, and insuring you get a full season of delicious apricots.
The Organic Way
Composting is a critical part of our organic and sustainable farming practices. It builds up the soil instead of letting it become depleted. It creates a healthy balance of beneficial microbes, preventing many of the problems that conventional farmers use chemicals to treat. It recycles some of the garbage that would otherwise go to the landfill, turning that “trash” into nutritional soil additives.
All together, the composting that goes on here at Frog Hollow Farm enriches the land, benefits the trees, and helps the farm turn out the highest quality fruit ... sweet and juicy, organic and healthy.
It’s an all-around win.