Organic fertilization

 I treated briefly soil biology, explaining its importance for its health. Indeed, the fundamental principle of organic farming is that fertility is based on the state of the soil (physical, biological, and chemical) and on the living organisms that compose it. Unlike conventional agriculture, which seeks to meet the needs of crops by directly fertilizing the plants with fertilizers soluble, the biological approach recognizes that it is the soil microorganisms that are best placed to administer to plants the nutrients necessary for their proper growth.

The work of an organic farmer is therefore to generate a natural fertilization process by adding compost, manure, and green manure called organic amendments. This latter, unlike fertilizers, must be "digested" by soil microorganisms to release the nutrient reserves available. That relation between the biological activity of the soil and the organic matter added by the farmer is the basis of which we call for the organic fertilization of crops.

When we first started to garden commercially, this idea of ​​"feeding the soil to feed the plant ”was comforting in its simplicity. Our fertilization strategy was to provide the soil with the maximum amount of compost available, hoping that everything would grow for the best.

As we learn about the different fertilization strategies used in organic market gardening, we have understood that thing was not so simple ... We also had to face the fact that the supply of compost is almost always limited and requires so rationalize it one way or another.

Over time, we have learned to use techniques such as soil analysis and soil calculations use to better understand the needs of our land and adjust our doses of fertilizers according to the specific needs of cultures. In other words, we have come to no longer fertilize blindly. We knew the importance of good crop rotation, but we took a while before their resort without it becoming too complicated to respect. We have also carried out many experiments with green fats to find their optimal use in our system-intensive production. All these learnings allowed us to develop a fertilization plan which has led us, since, to results more than satisfactory. Our soil is far better today than when we started.

All in all, learn to use your culture is therefore not so obvious. It is not only a question of taking advantage of existing agronomic experiences but also of investing time to observe and understand the basics of what governs the fertility of its soil. This allows us to give a sense of the observations that we make regularly in the garden and adjust its practices accordingly. Ultimately, it is the yields and the quality of produced vegetables that confirm whether our practices are good.

The importance of soil testing

As shown in the illustration on the previous page, organically fertilizing your crops promotes biological activity in the soil. These are the microorganisms that transform the fertilizer added in nutrient assimilable by the plant. In agronomic terms, this process is called "mineralization". But to be optimal, this process must be carried out under good conditions; thus, the soil must have an adequate pH, a good organic matter reserve, a good balance of minerals, adequate humidity, and enough heat to allow life to flourish. And since this information cannot be obtained not with the naked eye, it is necessary to have a soil analysis carried out laboratory. Well-amended garden soil may not present any of these problems and it is quite possible to successfully grow crops by dispensing with soil analyzes. But it is also possible to enrich the soil excessively, which can lead to production losses and pollution problems. For these reasons, I consider it essential, whatever the size of a market garden.

Performing a soil test in the laboratory is not complicated. The soil sample must be representative of the different plots of the garden, well-identified, and taken to a thickness of about 15 to 20 centimeters, before being sent to a laboratory by mail. Once the results have been obtained, I will recommend calling on a specialized agronomist in bio so that he can interpret it. Analysis complete should not be done without this agronomist coming to visit your gardens at least once. Yes the choice of the laboratory does not matter, that of the agronomist is crucial because the value of the recommendations depends on the correctness of the interpretation of the results