There seems to be a different gardening “method” around every corner. This makes it particularly difficult for one who’s just starting to learn about gardening and/or one who has been totally programmed by current marketing rather than sound advice.
But no matter how long we’ve gardened, the practices we embrace are decided primarily by how we perceive the world and what we believe to be true.
Long before Bill and I had a garden we knew we were going to garden organically. Everyone we knew (without exception) told us that wasn’t possible in “this day and age.” As far as I was concerned that was a bunch of “hog wash” — and it still is. I never had one bit of doubt about the earth being able to grow food without chemicals. I had total faith that the creation could do it’s job.
At that time, I had no so called “proof” to back me up, but I knew what I knew. Thus, Bill and I started gardening organically from day one and never regretted it for a minute.
As Far Away from the Line As Possible
Long time readers of TMG will know that when I make a decision about what I will or won’t do or use in my garden, it’s based on how far away I can stay from the “line” that separates organic from non-organic. If I have any doubts I stay away from whatever it is.
(For more details on this concept see my post Organic Gardening – How Near or How Far Away.)
The Truth is Out There
What has been extremely exciting over the past few years, is to come across so many scientific studies that have shown me the “whys” of my being successful and the proof of the downfalls of chemical gardening. And yes, the information that’s mainly “in your face” is the exact opposite, but the truth is out there if we’re looking.
Readers Ask Me What I Think
From time to time I get emails from readers who want to know what I think of this or that method of gardening. Many times, I’ve not heard of the method they ask about, and have to google it before I can even address answering their question.
Toni, a long time friend and reader from Oregon, wrote to me the other day and wanted to know my thoughts about a particular method she’d watched a video about while sick with the flu. I’d never heard of the method so I googled — not enough to know everything about it — but enough to get the general idea and to know that it was not a method that I’d use.
I’ve listed below various points about the method and my comments about those points so that you can see why I would not be interested.
Before I begin, let me state that it seems to be a universal law that just about everything in this world — even the worst of things or the biggest of lies — can have a bit of truth or a good point or two included in them. That doesn’t make the complete package something I’d want to embrace.
Points and My Comments on Method “X” (not the real name of course)
1. Devised by a former nurseryman and international agricultural consultant.
My comment: That means absolutely nothing to me. There are many former nurseryman and men high in agriculture who know nothing about gardening with nature and don’t even feel it can be done. Many (I would say the vast majority) are so programmed by the chemical industry that their views and mine would be at totally opposite ends of the spectrum.
2. Plants are grown vertically rather than horizontally.
My comment: This is done in many gardens as a great way to save space with crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, some squash, and other vining crops.
I noticed quite a few statements of this nature where what’s attributed to the method is just something that can be done in almost any gardening situation.
3. Calls for beds (either framed or unframed) that are filled with an inert medium such as sawdust or sand that have no nutrients or nutrient holding capability.
My comment: That’s the first big tip-off that this method is going in a different direction than nature when it comes to growing food.
Real soil was made for growing things. It’s made up of sand, clay, organic matter, water, air, minerals and a multitude of living organisms. Once you change that for whatever reason — keeping plants alive and healthy — not to mention making them nutrient dense — gets more complicated.
4. Plants are heavily watered and fertilized on a weekly basis.
My comments: If you’re growing for the best taste and highest nutrient value this statement should be another big tip-off that you don’t want this method. Here’s why:
- With the exception of lettuce and other greens, heavy watering usually takes away flavor. Dry farming where crops are only watered with rainfall, improves the flavor of almost all fruit (including tomatoes) and even root crops like beets and carrots. In addition, natural sugar content and antioxidant content can go up as much as 86% when irrigation is less.
- Not only is fertilizing on a weekly basis a lot more work than working along with nature, but when plants are forced to produced there’s always a trade off.
For example, hybrids are bred to produce abundantly and quickly. They don’t have time to take up all the nutrients like an open-pollinated variety might.
When various chemical fertilizers are used, flavor and nutrients can also drop off drastically. My guess is this might be the same even with organic fertilizers. Nature maintains a delicate balance and if we feed our soil with organic material nature will take care of our plants with just the right balance.
There are those who maintain that any nutrients/minerals/micronutrients in chemical form are just as good as their natural counterpart. I never have believed that. Nonetheless I found it enlightening to learn that noted soil scientist, Richard Parnes, came to the conclusion that “the idea of being able to calculate fertilizer application with any hope of certainty is an illusion. At best we can apply what we think is necessary” and that ““the major emphasis for good soil management should be on recycling organic residues, —” because of they put the needed “energy” into our soil. (For more details see my post here.)
I want no more work than I have to do, high nutrient content in what I grow, and great flavor. The method that my friend Toni asked me about doesn’t offer those things.
For more information I suggest reading the following posts:
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