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Mindful Farmer


Farm & Homestead Consultant Custom Greenhouses, Mobile Chicken Coops, & Tools

One year while I was managing a farm, one of our major wholesale clients went out of business in the middle of summer. I was left holding 1000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes a week with no home. In the week or two that it took me to find new customers, we had to figure out what to do with 2000 pounds of tomatoes. That was where we discovered this technique, out of necessity. Now it is my go-to method for preserving large batches of tomatoes. We also found the restaurants enjoyed buying tomatoes frozen as well. *Just don’t cut into them unless you have a commercial kitchen*

Freezing the tomatoes whole does two things: it releases the inner flesh from the outer skin and gives up huge amounts of water as the ice crystals puncture the tomato at a cellular level. This will dramatically decrease your processing time and allow you to process later in the season when you have more time.

I’m not a huge fan of canning and so I freeze my sauce in widemouth jars. Then I just set them out to thaw whenever I make my dough which is typically 24 hours before firing my pizza.
Soil blocks provide so many benefits, but here are just three:

🌱 Plants are healthier, using the soil, water, and air in the blocks more efficiently. As roots hit they edge of the block they air-prune themselves and send lateral roots in a new direction.

🌱 The roots don’t circle around the bottom of a tray or get stuck in the drainage holes. No crumbling plugs trying to free them from the tray. This also reduces transplant shock.

🌱 Infrastructure and tools are minimal. A few mesh bottom trays (or even just wood boards) should accommodate all sizes of soil blocks. They are much easier to clean and take up much less volume in storage. While the blockers themselves are an investment on the front end, they will last a lifetime or more.

There are a lot of soil block recipes out there and I encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you, but you can’t go wrong with just a basic seed starting mix fortified with a little worm castings and blood or feather meal.

Make sure that whatever recipe you choose has enough fertilizer to give the plants a good healthy start. When it comes to adjusting moisture, it’s just a matter of playing with it and getting a feel for it. If they crumble apart, add more pressure and water. If they slump apart, use less water and more medium.

Head to our shop or site for more info and to get started in soil blocking and order yours today. What soil blocking questions do you have? Tips? Challenges?

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Flipping is the process of transitioning a bed or field from one crop to another. Often market gardeners and home gardeners, planting a single bed at a time, can complete this process in about 20 minutes. This high rate of succession planting increases the total yield of smaller spaces.

I typically use the Finesse every time I flip a bed, not because the soil requires it, but because it makes transplanting that much easier for me, though the soil does benefit as well. When I started this garden several years ago, I was a barely able to get a shovel into the ground, and now I can push our heavy duty broadfork, the Brute, a foot and a half into the soil with just one step.

My process: I clean out the previous crop and any emerging weeds. I’ve then apply the necessary amendments and broadfork them in. Finally, I use the broadfork to smooth the bed and mark my rows for straighter planting. This makes cultivating that much easier and subsequent weeks.

I did use the Brute to work the soil about a foot and a half into the ground since I have not worked this particular bed in almost a year.

And yes, I did wear sandals. 😅 I know I’ll get comments, but notice in how the tines really don’t leave the ground. I’m dragging the tool backwards versus spearing it into the ground. Why waste the movement? A solid, and safe, broadforking technique should result an easy, beneficial, and non-straining task with a good flow.

Note: Because the broadfork doesn’t flip the soil over, less weed seeds germinate than with tilling. Also, you can use the process with a mulch in place.
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