Getting Ready to Plant...
begins a full year in advance. After a field is cleared, it is planted with clay and iron
peas (Vigna unguiculata). These
legumes are inoculated with micro-organisms that will reside on their roots and activate their
nitrogen fixing ability. They also are naturally toxic to soil nematodes.
Then in late summer the peas are cut and left to dry for about two weeks. A fire lane
and the field is burned. The fire speeds nutrient cycling, destroys weed seeds and helps to
insects and disease. A carefully formulated fertilizer mixture is applied to the soil and the
plowed. By plowing after the fire, the fertilizer and ash are mixed deep into the soil.
The plowing is followed by disking and subsoiling. Harrowing completes the process.
field is allowed to settle in time for planting in late January.
The field to the left in the picture is settling after the final pass with the
harrow. This photo was taken in early December. The field was planted about 8-weeks later.