Keeping The Soil Healthy – Our Compost

Looking over the to of a fresh windrow of compost hay.

Looking over the top of a fresh windrow of compost hay.

Here at Wildfire Fellowship Farm one way we keep our soil fed and healthy is by adding our own compost. This soil amendment is important because every time we harvest and sell our produce nutrients are leaving our farm. Compost provides a concentrated way to add back those lost nutrients as well as organic material.

One way we make this product is by composting hay from our fields. After we cut a section of field the green hay is placed into long piles called windrows. By placing the hay in a pile the material does not dry but instead starts to break down. During this process heat is created. As the hay starts to break down we cover the piles with heavy-duty landscaping fabric to keep the hay from giving off too much of its moisture.

A fresh windrow of hay starting to heat up.

A fresh windrow of hay starting to heat up, a little vapor can be seen drifting off the pile.

As the weeks pass the pile shrinks dramatically, care is taken to keep the windrow moist. The initial breaking down of the material is fast but the final product takes up to two years to be ready for the planting beds.

After several weeks the pile has shrunk and is well on it's way to becoming compost.

After several weeks the pile has shrunk and is well on its way to becoming compost.

When finished the compost is kept covered and protected. We spread the hay compost on to our seed beds prior to planting. Unlike chemical fertilizers used in conventional farming, compost both nourishes our plants and provides the complex living material for them to flourish. The best part is that this compost comes entirely from our land and keeps the soil in balance naturally.

The final product - this finished hay compost is being used to amend seed beds before planting.

The final product – this finished hay compost will be used to amend seed beds before planting.

 

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