Blindfolded Farming

As I dig deeper and deeper (pun intended) into soil microbiology, I'm discovering just how interesting, and essential, this facet of life is to a truly organic and sustainable system. In past years I've only had soil biology on the periphery of my mind, aware that it is important, but not actively doing much about it. Sure, we put out compost and occasionally some compost tea, which in theory improves one's soil biology. But in reality? Well, that depends entirely on what microorganisms are actually in the compost and compost tea. So how can we tell what's in the products we apply? LOOK at it. That is, with a microscope.

So learning microscopy has been taking up all my time and focus lately. I’ve fallen behind on newsletters, I've been slow responding to emails, I haven't called my mother in awhile...the list goes on.

Soon enough we'll be working in the greenhouses and then the field. By then, I hope to have a strong grasp of how to look at what's going on in our soils. In fact, it seems almost crazy that most of us farmers don't know how to see what's in our soils. We wouldn't put a blindfold on, walk around the field, and come back and say "I think the veggies are doing pretty well." Of course not. We open our eyes and look at the crops. Likewise, as I look at slides I feel as though a blindfold I didn't even know I was wearing has been taken off. A microscope can open our eyes to seeing our soil's microorganisms and seeing how they are doing. And I intend to keep my eyes wide open this season.