System of organic culture at The Herbary

Soil Fertility – is maintained by the use of legumes, crop rotation, permitted ground rock minerals, composts, leaf mould, composted chipped branch wood, green manure crops, mulches, plants residues, and covering bare ground in winter. The nutrient cycle is completed by an equivalent amount of organic matter/fertility being returned to the soil as the amount that has been removed through production and harvest of the crop.

This management practice aims to protect the soil and maintains optimum fertility and biological activity in the soil, taking into account the natural relation between the processes of growth and decay.

Multi-annual crop rotations are designed to balance the nutritional and structural demands of the soil. These rotations provide diversity above and below ground. Crops with different root structures and depths are grown to protect and improve the soil structure. the aim is to balance exploitative cropping with fertility building, and also to ensure the soil does not remain bare for any prolonged period especially during the winter.
Green Manures and plant wastes form the basis for building and maintaining soil fertility in combination with a sound rotation. The rotations maintain or increase the organic matter in the soil.
Compost is made on site from plant waste. The fermented leaves of nettle, comfrey, chamomile, valerian and yarrow are used for breaking down compost and sometimes also as a liquid feed.

Weeds – hand weeding, or weeding by hoeing is carried out. Balanced rotations, undersowing crops, use of transplants, proper composting and in-field hygiene all contribute to weed control.

Pests and Diseases – tend not to be a problem due to inherent vitality and bio-diversity in the system. Mixed planting is undertaken in the surrounding areas to provide a nectar source and wildlife habitat to support natural predators.

Soil analysis – periodic soil analyses are done to monitor pH level and any nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies are corrected to maintain the conditions for the appropriate level of microbial activity necessary to break down minerals and plant residues into the simple salts that can be absorbed by the plant roots.

Organic seed is used. No seed has been genetically modified or given any chemical coating. All seed has been open pollinated. No hybrid seed is used.

Organic Certification – the whole system is regularly monitored by the Organic Certifiying Body.

Records – are kept of crop production past, current and projected over a minimum 4-year rotation.