We are tentatively firing up the tractors and getting ready for spring. I have called the lime spreader and hopefully he will be ready to lime our fields this week. In farming, timing can be critical and for the Klesick Family Farm, with all of our diversity, we need to lime as early as possible. This year, based on soil samples and crop observations from last year, we will need about a ton of lime per acre to raise our calcium levels up. The reason I want to apply lime now is because we raise grass for hay and grass for our beef cows and we raise vegetables and fruit. With all of these different cropping needs, early spring applications allow us the greatest flexibility.
Calcium has been called the “trucker” of nutrients – you could even call it the “life of the party.” Plants really love adequate calcium and many nutrients attach themselves to it and follow it up into the plant from the soil. I wish farming was as simple as adding calcium, but then there are magnesium ratios and manganese ratios and nitrogen needs as well as trace micro nutrients like boron and zinc, which are some of the minerals needed to grow the plants. I also have to keep track of the soil bacteria and make sure they are happy because they feed the plants the minerals that I am applying to my fields.
As a rule, I try and keep my soil profile full of minerals for this simple reason: if the minerals are not present in the soil, the minerals will not be in my crops and, sadly, not in your food. America has too many empty calories on its plate already and my customers are not going to be getting any empty calorie food from me.
Whatever happened to the good old days of adding manure and barnyard wastes to your fields, working it in and growing food? I think what has happened is technology. We now can add just the right amount of this nutrient or that nutrient because through soil sampling we now know what we are missing in our soil. I am happy that the technology exists, but for some reason I still hasten back to Grandpa’s gardens and he never soil sampled. He just cleaned out the chicken house and loafing sheds and worked it into the garden and, voila, green beans and green peas coming out his ears. I know, because I remember sitting on the back porch snapping beans and shelling peas.
I suppose I have blended both worlds—Grandpa’s and mine. I use a draft horse for some of the work and I compost lots of materials which I add to our fields in liberal amounts. I raise beef cows and and so did he. He raised vegetables and fruit for his family and I raise them for my family and your family.
I guess you might say that my farm has a lot of my Grandpa in it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.