Category Archives: Tools

Through Mikaela’s Lens….

One of our June wwoofers Mikaela not only proved herself to be a master harvester, bean planter and quack grass eliminator she also has a wonderful photographer’s eye… here is her blog post.


Washing and sink area…


The trusty Japanese hoe…


The lovely Amy…


The most beautiful Rainbow Chard…


Cute beans that were planted by yours truly….


Faux Honey Bee…




Cheeky Goats! (temporary guests at Talking Horse Farm)


Red Cabbages, Red Pac Choi, Green Cabbages, Green Pac Choi…

mikaela pizza

Beatin’ the sourdough…

gary oven

…for Gary the Pizza master and his cob oven!


Organic Sourdough (hand kneaded), farm-harvested arugula (that day), Amy’s secret sauce, organic local goat cheese, roasted garlic and red onions. Yum…!

May 2013

For our SARE funded experiment we are comparing two tilled beds with two no-tilled beds when direct seeding vegetables. This season, we are growing carrots.

tillingThe rototiller goes down at least 6 inches into the soil. When using our no-till methods for direct seeding we only disturb the top two inches at the most.

garytillingDirect seeding requires very neat rows, to make early weeding easier. We usually use string to mark the rows, but as we are constantly trying to find ways to be more efficient we came up with a new idea….

rowmarkingtoolThe Long Rake Row Marker (prototype)! This long rake is exactly the width of our beds and we added special extensions (metal tubes banged in with a hammer)…

rows marked Now all we have to do is drag it across once and four lovely lines appear – perfect for popping in carrot seeds.

tranplanting kaleNo-till transplanting is even less work. We are scything down the cover crop and making small holes for our transplants such as kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower…

pac choi transplants Here are some pac choi transplants with the crimson clover and vetch growing back in between. All this coverage keeps the soil healthy and troublesome weeds at bay.

garyscytheElsewhere cover crops are needing to be mowed by Gary… The rye in the paths…

covercrop biomass … and the vetches and clovers give us a huge amount of biomass for composting.

salad greensMeanwhile our succulent salad greens are being enjoyed all over the island…

April 2013

The new season has begun. Wish us Luck!

fourleafcloverIt’s Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday today. Poet, artist, visionary, educationalist  and sage. A huge inspiration to Good Earth. Peter Gill who has been Wwoofing with us left this quote in the visitors book last week:

When organised national selfishness, racial antipathy and commercial self-seeking begin to display their ugly deformities in all their nakedness, then comes the time for man to know that his salutation is not in political organization and extended trade relations, not in any mechanical rearrangement of social systems, but in a deeper transformation of life, in the liberation of consciousness in love, in the realization of god in man. Tagore

peter plantingContemplating this goes hand in hand with planting the first spring lettuces!

mum&calfThe nurturing of new life is what Spring is all about.

lambAnd the season’s creative energy and joy is expressed in the small animals that surround the garden at Talking Horse Farm…

baby tomatoes… and the small plants in the greenhouse.

covercrops viewThe garden is thick with cover crop.

covercrops rye in pathsA mix of vetches (purple, hairy & common) and clovers in the beds. (the one on the right also has garlic growing in it). Rye in the paths to suppress the quack grasses. Our beds are 3′ wide and paths 18″ to allow for maximum planting area in a small garden. These cover crops are providing bio-mass above and below the ground, nitrogen and other nutrients.

fava beansIn our SARE experiment beds the fava bean cover crop is almost ready to flower.

garyscytheThe cover crops are scythed multiple times…

japanese tool… and we using this small Japanese tool called a Seikobo (?) to get a closer shave.

transplantsincovercropsTransplants go directly into the cover crop residue…

braising greens…as we continue to harvest last year’s chard, kale and mustard flowers for a braising green mix, thanks to a mild winter.

11th August 2012 – Natural Farming Weekend

I spent many years of my youth foolishly searching for something I ‘should’ have been doing. Instead, I should have entrusted everything to the flowers blooming in the meadow. Even if people do nothing at all, the grasses and the trees and the songbirds will live on…. I have finally learned that, although nature does not reach out to people directly, people can always approach nature and seek salvation that way. Masanobu Fukuoka, Sowing Seeds in the Desert


Our invitation to Larry Korn (editor of The One Straw Revolution) to be a key speaker at our weekend of workshops, coincided perfectly with the launch of his latest work: Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert.


Wwoofers and volunteers worked hard to create a beautiful environment for the workshop, including flower art by Whitney…

dome barn tomatoes

… in the newly cleaned and renovated round barn.


Larry joined our temporary community for meals (prepared by volunteers), bonfire and conversation.

Larry Korn presenting

He emphasized the philosophy of natural farming and shared tales and images of his experiences with Fukouka. When the visionary Japanese farmer told him that his soil yielding a thick crop of barley had not been ploughed for 25 years, Larry thought he had discovered “the holy grail”.


Videos of all the inspirational presentations will be posted later.

Krista Rome presentation 3

Krista Rome lead us beautifully though the various steps of threshing, winnowing and using screens to clean locally grown grains and beans.

Krista Rome presentation - group

Lots of work for many hands and feet! A great communal activity.

Krista Rome presentation 1

Her fantastic manual is available at

Errol Speed's tools

Tools of the trade, including Japanese hand sickles, like the ones used on Fukuoka’s farm (we love them!) were demonstrated by the highly skillful Errol Speed.

Errol Speed presentation 1

Passionate about every kind of hand tool. He lead us through the complete process of transforming sod-covered ground into a bed without tilling. From sharpening your scythe to using the broad-fork. Errol’s tools can be purchased at his store on Orcas Island

Ana Manilof presentation 1

Seed Saving and honoring the life cycle of a plant is a crucial aspect of working with nature. Ana Manilof from Lopez Island has been selling seeds through her company Green Heart Gardens for a number of years. She quoted from one of our favorite books: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth:

kale seeds in hand

The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands at planting time are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity… Whenever gardeners begin to save their own seeds, they also become part of an ancient tradition.

Ryan Drum presentation 1

Ryan Drum from Waldron Island, talked about another ancient tradition: foraging and healing with plants.

Ryan Drum presentation 2

He managed to find an incredible amount of beneficial wild plants to discuss, just sitting in one spot in the garden. This is because we do not excessively eliminate weeds as part of our natural farming processes. These wild plants help keep the soil and crops healthy. Including Shepherds Purse, that Ryan told us can be used to stop heavy bleeding. What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. Ralph Waldo Emerson

RP presentation

We finished the weekend with a presentation from RP, who has been volunteering at the farm. A former Phd student in applied chemistry who wanted to warn us of the dangers of the newly developing nano-technology field.

workshop lunch

Lots of information and new ideas to digest during all the delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the menu: oatmeal and muffins, local poached salmon, BBQ beef from Talking Horse Farm, fresh garden salad, grilled zucchini and leek, couscous and chick pea taboule, borscht, home made bread and ratatouille with brown rice. Dining was accompanied by the lovely gypsy band OPA. We were all too busy eating, conversing and dancing to take any pictures. Thank you to everyone who contributed their head, heart and hands to this very special event.