In the Beginning —
When I first started gardening 33 years ago — I didn’t know very much. I just tried to follow nature.
And then –
After a year or so I started to read everything I could find about gardening organically. In at least a decade of those early years I worried about things like adding bone meal, greensand, blood meal, phosphorous, potassium, nitrogen, and all kinds of organic fertilizers. I concerned myself with fixing a compost pile just so. I used my ph tester continually. I wanted to learn and do everything just right.
My Life in the Garden Changes–
I remember reading about fusarium wilt in an effort to find out what was wrong with my tomatoes one year. The description they gave seemed to fit my tomatoes to a T.
But the thing that really got to me and changed my life in the garden was what they said about what could (not) be done. I will never forget it. Whatever I was reading — and it was considered a reputable source — said that if your plants had this “fusarium wilt” you could no longer garden in that spot — EVER.
Supposedly the fusarium wilt would always be there and it was indeed awful and you may as well pretty much throw in the towel. As silly as it seems to me now, I was a bit down after reading the article.
The good news is — my survival mode kicked in. I reasoned that this was pretty much the most ridiculous way of dealing with a garden problem that I had ever heard of. Problems of mankind’s making might be irreversible, but with nature’s problems there is always a solution.
Don’t tell me there’s more bad news!
As time passed and practices in meat production got worse and worse, there were concerns with blood meal, bone meal and anything that stemmed from animal products. For me there was no way to deal with it all — so I stopped using all that stuff.
After all — manure, well aged wood chips, pine, straw and leaves were still available to me.
Wood Chips no longer available.
All of a sudden our wonderful aged wood chips which we used by the truck load for only $20 per load was no longer available.
Next is Pine
We moved to our current residence. When we did — we no longer had access to pine needles.
Then came the problem with residual herbicides in manure. Now we were cut off from manure.
What did we do??
I’ve used only straw and leaves and cover crops for mulch in my garden for the past 12 years. When all those things decay they act as organic matter for my soil.
The Happy Ending
You know what? My gardens and borders are as lush and beautiful as they always were. Organic matter is organic matter. And that’s what my plants need to grow, be healthy and give abundant fruit.
More Good News
Furthermore, whatever organic material I’ve had access to —it mattered not the ph of the material. The fact of the matter was (and is) that when enough organic material breaks down in my soil, the ph level in the soil will lean more towards neutral than acid or alkaline. My originally acidic soil has been between 6.5 and 6.9 for years and years.
If I find a bonus of acidic aged wood chips, pine, oak leaves, etc. — I USE THEM! They have not made my soil acidic.
Everything in nature is user friendly. Mankind has a tendency to make it all too complicated. If you are just starting out and think gardening is too complicated — take heart. If you’ve been gardening a while and don’t enjoy it because you feel it’s too complicated — take heart.
What to Do
Add organic material – as much as you can get. Keep adding more as it decays. Keep your soil covered with it. Plant your stuff.
In a relatively short period of time, you’ll have the best garden you ever had.
Gardening – Keep it Simple – because it is.
Related Posts for Additional Reading:
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient and — a lot healthier.
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