Its energy restored after a wintry rest, the earth is responding to the change of seasons and signs of spring are everywhere. In a few days the birds will start to announce the change and begin the ancient pattern of renewing life.
All beings feel the change; humans included. But most of all I think it’s felt more by those who have within them the desire to garden.
Google’s statistics back this up showing increased “googling” for gardening information starting at the end of January and continuing to rise until it peaks in mid-July.
Videos and Articles Can Be Misleading
When you consider all the information (good and bad) that’s out there, one can see it’s easy to be mislead by an article or video that one considers produced by a popular personality who is perceived as being an authority or expert on the subject.
Some months ago I was googling something or other and in the process came across a video by one of the current popular garden personalities. At the end of the video he was telling his audience all that they needed to buy to raise healthy produce. He finally ended up with so many bags of this, that, or the other on the table that he didn’t have room for them all.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Even for container-gardening , you don’t need all that he said you did to be successful and grow nutrient dense food.
Most of what he had was just something else to buy.
Made Popular by Marketing
Much of the information you find today is based on what’s been made popular by marketing. More often than not, an article is about a product that someone has successfully promoted. It’s become so popular that it’s considered a necessity rather than an option.
New gardeners especially, may end up coming to the conclusion that’s the way you “have to” garden.
As a result of all this marketing, gardening can appear quite complicated.
Two Well-known Personalities who Kept/Keep it Simple
J.I. Rodale inspired by Sir Albert Howard, a British Soil Scientist
I’m sure most readers recognize the name J.I Rodale as founder of the magazine that was to become known as Organic Gardening Magazine. Starting with only 12 subscribers, the magazine boasted a million readers after 50 years. (At 70 plus years, it has changed names and focus in an effort to be (stay?) profitable.)
I found it interesting that J.I. Rodale started his professional life in an accounting practice in New York City. By 1923 he and his brother formed Rodale Manufacturing, producing commercial and residential electrical connectors. From a corner of the floor of that company began what would later blossom into Rodale Publishing Company.
In 1940, Mr. Rodale was inspired by the 40 year research and experiments of Sir Albert Howard, who is considered the founder of the organic farming movement.
Rodale was so inspired in fact, that he decided to buy farm land and raise as much of his family’s food as possible, using the organic method.
A convenient location was chosen, half way between Allentown and Emmaus Pennsylvania. Then he purchased a run-down farm of 60 acres that the government farm agency in the area considered incapable of producing profitable crops.
At least one person to help was needed, but farmhands were difficult to come by. The person he finally hired was considered an “unemployable”, but together they started farming organically. And like most new farmers, they made lots of mistakes. (By the way, I hope it’s obvious that mistakes come with success.)
They gathered organic material from wherever they could find it. They made compost with weeds, spoiled hay, leaves, and animal manures.
In Mr. Rodale’s own words, “The results, for a couple of amateurs, were simply remarkable.”
He felt he had to share this information with the rest of country. In 1942, Organic Farming and Gardening was first published with none other than Sir Albert Howard as the associate editor! (It later became Organic Gardening Magazine.) It’s the magazine that is said to have introduced the organic movement to this country.
Eliot Coleman – Local Organic “inputs” Were All that He Needed
Eliot Coleman, farmer and author, considered himself an adventurer. He was introduced to Organic gardening, I think, by Helen and Scott Nearing. (They wrote Living the Good Life and many other books.)
They sold Mr. Coleman a forested piece of their property when they lived in Maine for exactly what they paid for it. Coleman looked at making the property into an organic vegetable farm as another adventure.
When he started, he was amazed at not needing any “inputs” that all of conventional agriculture think of as being indispensable. His inputs were local organic materials such as seaweed, spoiled hay, leaves, and good animal manures from neighbors.
He constantly looked towards building long term fertility. And the once 3 inches of top soil is now 12 inches of top soil.
As Mr. Coleman explained to an interviewer in a video, all plants need is proper air, moisture and nutrients. Compost (totally decayed organic materials) makes all that possible.
Eliot Coleman also knows that “Mother Nature is on our side. She wants us to be well fed.” All you need do is work with her. Not a lot to buy at all, since she’ll provide most all of it.
As excitement for the season ahead builds, make a mental note to be slow to take to heart what some of the garden personalities say you absolutely need for your garden. More than likely all you need is organic materials that often can be obtained from your own property or at least close by.
Two of the sources I used for the information on J.I. Rodale are
#1 – the book, The Best of Organic Gardening c 1996 Rodale Press
#2 – http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/53/Rodale-Press-Inc.html
Suggested reading for an even better understanding of what is needed for soil fertility:
Soil Fertility Without Manure or Compost
The book Organic Gardening – Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening
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