By supporting your soil and its systems, you will attain a state of productive sustainability.

Gardeners use up a lot of natural resources and simply adding NPK fertilizer isn't going to make up for it. One of the most important things you can do to make your garden productive and sustainable is to put attention and effort into soil building - the building of your tilth. Tilth building takes work and effort and some investment now, but will really pay off in the future. You'll have a garden producing in sync with nature, and your plants will produce food that is more nutrient dense.

We will go over composting, animal manures, green manures, cover cropping, soil layers and structures, mulching, subsoiling, tilling, and using mushrooms. We will also talk about herbal amendments, foliar sprays, kelp, garden teas, compost tea, manure tea and other ways to increase or adjust soil nutrients. You'll leave the workshop with an understanding of these various techniques as well as some hands-on experience on applying these techniques to your garden or farm. 

Check Schedule for Availability | Cost: $45 | Please register in advance. 

Artful Soil Building Overview Workshop

We usually offer this workshop every other year for one of the first Saturdays in June. (If it is very rainy, we will reschedule for the next day.) Workshop is 3 hours long.

Instead of only focusing on the health and vibrancy of our plants in our garden we should instead focus on the soil itself. If you don't have healthy, vibrant soil, you'll be forever struggling to keep your plants healthy and vibrant and productive. 


Herbal and Compost Teas for the Garden

Plants enjoy tea too! Just as with human skin, plants can absorb many nutrients through the pores on their leaves. Plant teas are applied by spraying the plants foliar areas with nutrient dense brewed liquid fertilizer - or tea. We'll go over the basics of brewing plants teas made from aged manures, compost, and various herbs. And we'll also discuss the Biodynamic 500 prep. Making your own teas is simple and easy. The cost is minimal. And the whole process is so much more clean, graceful, and effective than buying expensive commercial fertilizers. Workshop takes place at Midsummer Farm.

Cost is $36 | Current Schedule | Registration

4) Hot, Killer Compost
By turning the compost pile every 5-10 days, you can build up a tremendous amount of cooking heat within the pile. This heat, which can reach 130 -140°F, kills most weed seeds as well as soil pathogens. You can have ready-to-use compost in 6-8 weeks! I never use this method though – I feel it kills and sterilizes too much out of my compost.

Manure Management – It is important to be careful when using manure or composted manure in your vegetable garden. Follow the “90/120 rule:” don’t apply manure less than 90 days before you plan to harvest a crop that grows off the ground (tomatoes) or 120 days before you plan to harvest a crop that grows on/against the ground (lettuce). Applying manure to a field or garden in the Autumn makes a lot of sense.


1) Deliberate Style Compost
Collect organic materials; layer the materials in a pile, alternating “green” and “brown” types. Maintain adequate moisture. Monitor and turn as needed.

“Green” materials provide nitrogen to your pile and include grass clippings, food scraps, rotten vegetables, weeds, cut or uprooted plants from the garden, animal manures, etc. “Brown” materials provide carbon and include dry leaves, straw, grain stalks, or other dried plant material from the garden.

Once you have built your layers, your pile will go through hot and cold phases and gradually shrink in size.

An effective compost plan:

  1. Start in a spot in part sun and with nice loose soil as a base (loosen soil with a pitchfork if necessary). Stake it off - 3' x 3' at least for proper 'cooking.' Squares are better than rounds for even decomposing. Consider water in placing your pile, as it needs to be kept moist. I build most of my piles in spots where they get morning sun and afternoon shade.
  2. Start with a layer of 'brown' dry stalks of vegetation - roughage. Big thick stalks and sticks are great for letting air in through the bottom of the pile. Pile needs to breathe.... you want lots of oxygen in a compost pile. This roughage acts a foundation. Water it.
  3. Then add a 'green' layer - alfalfa or any fresh green biomass or manure crop. The more diversity you can provide in the materials, the more microbial diversity you'll encourage. Water it...
  4. Continue creating layers of about equal thickness of 'browns' (material harvested at maturity) and 'greens' (material harvested while immature) and water each layer. The dry browns provide carbon, structure, and longevity. The wet greens provide nitrogen, sugars, and energy.
  5. You can add manure or already completed compost or soil in between layers to speed it up.
  6. Once it is about 3-4 feet high, cap it off with soil or a straw 'skin.'
  7. In about 3-4 weeks, the inside of the pile will be quite decomposed; and you can turn it at this point. Basically, try to move the inside potions to the outside, and the outside, less decomposed potions, inside. Water as you turn.
  8. In warm weather, the whole process should take 2-3 months. In cooler weather, it may take up to 6 months. You know it is done when it smells good and you can't recognize the original ingredients.

2) Free Form Style Compost
This is fine and also makes quality compost. This would be where you would add anything you find to your pile and just keep turning as needed and continuing to add. You'll find that you will want to eventually stop adding new material and let some fully compost as you start a new pile...

3) Biodynamically Fortified Compost

Adding Herb-Based Biodynamic Compost Preparations to the compost pile.

  • Yarrow (BP502) - encourages plants to attract trace elements for cellular-level support
  • Chamomile (BP503) - stabilizes nitrogen and increases soil life and balance, which stimulates growth
  • Stinging Nettle (BP504) - enlivens the soil and its various structures, seems to open up communication lines in plants and soil structures helping each find and use the nutritional components they need.
  • Valerian Root (BP507) - stimulates phosphorus development in compost pile and makes sure it is developed in a bioavailable way for plants to use.
  • Dandelion Flowers (BP506) - brings cosmic forces into the soil, so everything in the soil can better interact with these forces.
  • Oak Bark (BP505) - initiates strong healing and protective qualities