Farmer's Diary: Soil, Seeds and Other Beginnings | Chow | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Food & Drink » Chow

Farmer's Diary: Soil, Seeds and Other Beginnings

What makes a successful garden? A local farmer explains two key ingredients


Welcome to the first installment of Farmer's Diary, a locally-produced series from farmers in Central Oregon.

Check out the column Saturdays here at, for tips and insider info about growing food in our unique region.
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What you should know about soil:

Long before a seed can be planted, soil must be built. Let’s be honest, most soil has been dry, lifeless and chemically treated. It may take seasons of cover crops, microbiotic teas, compost and minerals before your seeds will bear well. In the beginning, loosen the soil deeply.

But after that, as your soil becomes more complex, gently fold in your amendments or simply lay on top for all the living organisms to come to the surface and transport the nutrients to exactly where they are needed. One must trust that army and leave it undisturbed. It will create its own organs to eat and breathe, always to nurture the plant from seed to edible parts and through to decomposition, where all of the life that springs forth returns to feed the future.
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What you should know about seeds:

The precision of planting is critical, density and depth for perfect contact with the soil. Each seed is a perfect capsule of life. Some can hold onto their information for thousands of years, others are more fragile and lose their potency over even one year. All are unlocked with water and soil and seek the sun. Their life force is finite, and if planted too deep, they will piddle out before reaching the surface and the food of the sun.

Saving seed is the holy grail of farming. The farmer’s selection of crops for flavor and resilience specific to the micro climate of the farm. The career of the farmer may be a lifetime and the degree to which seeds evolve is profound. They also represent a sharable collective conscious between farmers across continents. A tiny seed can represent thousands of seeds, a true Pandora’s box. The unleashing of a beast. An uncontainable spring of life and nourishment.

- Sarahlee Lawrence is the owner of Rainshadow Organics in Sisters, Ore.

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