Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop on biointensive growing at Buena Vista Farm in Gerringong. I met gorgeous Fiona and Adam, farm owners at Buena Vista, and Linda Machon, the farm's amazing market gardener.
I also met Jodi Roebuck, a biointensive growing legend who showed us everything from prepping beds, to good farming ergonomics, and raising seeds.
He showed us a method called 'double digging.' This consists of carefully lifting the topsoil (top 10-20cm) and gently aerating the subsoil with a fork. This allows for air, earthworms, nutrients, and water to penetrate into it, essentially turning the subsoil into more beautiful topsoil! As a result, garden beds are gorgeously friable and deep (60cm!), allowing for crops to grow closer together and develop deep, strong root systems.
Another super impressive part of biointensive growing is that it requires barely any inputs (no 'imported' manures or soil amendments). It relies on creating a series of 'lukewarm' compost piles at different stages of maturation to ensure a steady supply. By 'lukewarm,' I mean that this composting method is a hybrid one, incorporating elements of cold and hot composting. The heaps contains more carbon materials (straw, dried leaves, wood shavings) than usual. It is left to heat up to around 60 degrees and cool down again before turning (this is called 'late turning.')
Biointensive seed raising is also super interesting as it involves growing seedlings in deep flats to encourage deep root penetration. After seeds have germinated and before true leaves appear, they are carefully pricked out and potted on using biointensive spacing into more deep flats before planting out into the garden. Biointensive plant spacing traditionally places plants closer together in a skewed or diagonal grid.
It was all very inspiring and we've now double dug a few of our garden beds in the Lyttleton veggie patch. Big thank you to Linda for 'lending' us Last chance to sow carrots up here in Lawson, so we did. We've also sown Loret's beautiful purple and green sprouting broccoli, kale, mesclun lettuces, radicchio, daikon, perennial leeks, and endives using biointensive plant spacings. Now it's time to water them regularly and watch them grow! Ask to visit the garden on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and I (Manu) will show you around!