An important step to becoming self-sufficient in producing your own food is having fabulous and healthy soils. Modern agriculture has all sorts of inputs that they pour into the soil to boost their productivity, but overtime the soils become depleted and require additional inputs and larger amounts. Such strategies are a long way from producing soils, are not self-sufficient and are generally very resource hungry, with many petro-chemical based inputs.
I went to a seminar today on Green Manures and Crop Rotation at my local library. This was presented by Sonya Wallace, a well known permaculture teacher here on the Sunshine Coast. This session was very informative and relieved some of my concerns about have green manure crops within my personal food production system. The concerns that I had previously about green manure crops was that I was loosing a good patch of soil which I could have been producing another viable vegetable crop.
For those that are unfamiliar with green manure crops, these are crops that assist in replenishing the soil with vital nutrients such as nitrogen as well as providing organic matter into the soil encouraging a good soil structure and a great diversity of life-forms within the soil (microbes, bacteria, fungi, invertebrates, etc). These crops are grown to rest your soils and also ensure that you have great soils to produce the food you want on your table.
Sonya presented information on types of green manure crops and the importance of rotating crops throughout your garden to ensure the soils can produce the best crops possible, with your rotation program to include green manure crops.
I now understand it is important to use such crops and strategies to ensure I will have long-term productive soils without having to utilise artificial sources of nutrients, in turn allowing for ongoing gardening success.