The onslaught of advertising for gardening products is on!
Have you already seen several things that you think would enhance your garden’s ability to produce more? Or help your newly started seedlings grow better? Or be just the kind of watering system you need?
Do These Advertisements Sound Like Something You Need?
“Our unique fertilizer is blended to include all the micro-nutrients that (whatever vegetable) requires for optimum growth and productivity.”
“Once your (vegetable plants) are established, feed them with our unique blend of fertilizer to maximize growth and production.”
Read on to determine if you really need these fertilizers.
Is Information on A Site Selling Garden Supplies Factual?
One source I saw warned to start feeding your seedlings as soon as true leaves appear and apply it twice a week and continue until they go into the garden. They went on to say how their seedling-fertilizer contains all the trace nutrients and minerals and everything else your seedlings will need.
Some information on sites selling products can be truthful, no doubt. But it just so happens that I know from experience that the above is not accurate. The seed has everything it needs to provide food for the seedling for quite sometime. Below is a picture of seedlings I’ve raised in soilless grow-mix (no nutrients) and that have never had anything but water added to the mix.
More Powerful Than We Think
Marketing, brain washing, programming — whatever you choose to call it — is a powerful force in our society. It can influence all of us and make us think we need something even when we don’t.
Big business has the money to make it happen. They hire people, who (having made a study of how the human brain works – coupled with good writing skills) know exactly how to make you think you need their product for the success of your garden.
Is Any of It True?
If you’re working with nature as you garden (sometimes called biological, organic, or biointensive gardening) it’s not likely you’ll need any of the above.
If you’re following the example of conventional agriculture in your garden maybe these products are for you.
Why Does It Make a Difference?
More and more for the past 100 years our food supplies have been placed in the hands of companies who are in business only to serve their bottom line of profit. That was the beginning of our prevailing agricultural methods.
Poor soil, land, and animal husbandry have depleted most of our soils in this country to point where it can no longer perform the necessary functions to produce food that is healthy and nutrient dense. For example, it no longer has the capacity to retain water or nutrients. It is, for the most part, devoid of life that makes up healthy soil.
Modern agriculture has ignored nature’s law of diversity, the law of replenishing the soil, and the law of covering the soil. Those laws when kept, work towards maintaining soil health. When ignored they work towards the soil losing its ability to grow food that will maintain garden health and thus, our health.
Simply adding a few nutrients with a chemical fertilizer is just not enough to replace the complex system and life that is in healthy soil.
Calories – Yes; Nutrients – Not So Much
Most of our soil now lacks the nutrients to maintain human health. Some reports say as much as 85% of the soil’s mineral content has been lost.
In the United States the vast majority of the population may get enough calories, but fail to get essential nutrients necessary for health. They’re no longer in food produced on depleted soils in quantities needed to maintain health.
History shows poor management of soil and land have brought down many cultures of the past. The Dust Bowl here in America is an example in our recent history that most of us can easily relate to. (If you have my book the details are on page 148, 149 and a bit on 151.)
Without soil to sustain life there is no life.
The Good News
We as an individuals may not be able to change conventional farming methods and the damage it’s doing. But the good news is if we have a little bit of soil to tend we can do a lot to introduce some nutrient dense, health giving food into our diets.
And the greatest news is that it’s easy IF you work with nature.
The 3 Keys
If you’ve read my book Organic Gardening – Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening you already know how easy it is.
The First Key is Preparing the Soil Deeply
And the greatest part of this is that you only have to do it once. Henceforth, walk only in your paths not on your beds. Otherwise you’ll undo what you’ve done by loosening the soil deeply.
Also keep some mulch on the bed to keep rain from compacting the soil. The picture below shows a bed that I’ve just pulled back the mulch in order to plant. Once the plants are in, I’ll put the mulch back.
The picture below shows the garden after a snow from a view point that you can better see where the paths are.
If you don’t have the book yet, follow my instructions in the posts mentioned at the end for preparing your soil.
You won’t believe the difference it makes. Not only will it give roots the ability to go further into the soil, but it increases the water holding capacity of the soil. (Six inches of water can be held in soiled prepared to a depth of 24 inches.)
The Second Key is Adding Organic Material to the Soil
The depleted fields of conventional farms have no organic matter. Without organic matter soil cannot produce well, if at all.
Organic material (anything living) decomposes to make organic matter (decayed living matter.) In your organic garden you’ll want to use primarily plant material.
You don’t need manure, but if you have access to horse, cow, sheep, or chicken manure without herbicide residue you can use it.
In addition to the links I just gave you above, I’ve placed another at the end of the post to give you more information and instruction in case you don’t have my book.
The Third Key is Covering the Soil
Although this can be done with intensive planting, the easiest way if you’re just starting, is by covering the soil with organic material such as straw, pine tags (needles), wood chips, plant residue, and/or cover crops.
Mulching (covering the soil) keeps the soil from washing away, keeps it from compacting, reduces evaporation of water by 13 to 63%, and adds more fertility to the soil as it decays.
I’ve placed a link to a post on mulch at the end to get you started, but I’ve written dozens of posts on mulching . Put mulch in the search box and choose a post that appears to be what you need. I suggest you eventually read them all and they’ll answer about any question you might have on mulch.
Nature – Complex or Simple?
What goes on in a healthy soil is complex almost beyond our comprehension.
The good news is we don’t really have to know any of that. Nature makes it so easy for us.
If we apply the 3 keys which work synergistically, provide good air circulation, and as much diversity as we can, that’s about all our job requires.
We don’t have to till. We don’t have to fertilize. We don’t have to water, unless you’re in one of the few areas that has less than 20 inches of rain a year.
Most all the dos and don’ts pertaining to growing a crop or preparing a garden come from conventional agriculture. It’s often in direct opposition to how nature does things.
Every time you change the original plan that’s been practiced successfully for 1,000s of years you have to do more and know more. And based on what we see happening with depleted soil, nutrient loss in food, and poisoning by chemicals the results you get are very poor in spite of the work involved.
Is your gardening too complicated? In the interest of your time, your money, and your health you might want to simplify and make nature your partner.
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot healthier.
Soil Preparation (First Key)
Adding Organic Matter (Second Key)
Adding Organic Matter (part 2)
Adding Organic Matter (part 3)
Covering the Soil (Mulching)
Manures – Good or Bad for the Organic Garden
Highly Recommended Reading
3 Books That Can Change Your Garden Your Health and The Way You Look at Life
3 Keys to Successful Gardening – More Proof They Work
Organic Residues – The Needed Energy for Soil Fertility
Organic Gardening – Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening $28.95 Click on the picture to order.
All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.
Your words are a breath of fresh air in the weirdly complex and unnaturally unconventional world of conventional agriculture. They have lost all things good.
I thought of you as I uncovered the thick layer of leaves on my raised beds, only to find lettuce seed already growing from last spring! What a welcoming surprise after a very, VERY wet south east fall and early winter.
(It’s been raining since October!)
I hope you are able to get around in the garden now and that 2019 is a fabulous new year for you!
Suzanne @Le Farm
The longer I garden the less I buy, most is free if I nurture my soil.
Theresa, you are the reason my garden is so healthy this year. I read your book, emailed you about a cover crop and in Florida I find the best mulch is straw. My soil is the best it has ever been….it has taken a few years but I’m there.
One of the best tips was to dig deep, never saw a worm even two feet deep. This year when I started my fall garden and after my cover crop was turned into the soil for a month I pulled back my straw and my garden is alive with worms everywhere. The coffee grounds helped too but the soil is rich and black and alive.
I thank you so much for guiding me to success. I’m still composting so I don’t have to buy any products to fortify the soil. I add coffee grounds and egg shells that have been through a grinder but that’s it. Also, this fall, no bugs, only one caterpillar that thought he might feast but I got rid of him and check for any friends he may have had ever other day.
I give you credit for my success. Thank you.
Excellent. I can’t recommend Theresa’s website and books enough!
I just stumbled onto your site last night and I feel I have found a kindred spirit! Can’t believe I have never found you before this.
I’ve been gardening strictly organically in the Hudson Valley for 25 years. We share many of the same challenges (squash bugs!) as your region in Virginia.
I admire your fortitude and I will pray for your continuing recovery.
Getting around some Suzanne and will give some hopefully entertaining accounts in a future post.
And yes, it seems to have been raining for an entire year! Hopefully we’ll only get rain in due season for 2019.
I’m so glad you found the post a “breath of fresh air”. It seems it’s hard to come by these days. 🙂
Thanks for commenting. It always lifts me and encourages me.
Me too Ray!
Bonnie, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experiences. It will help many others to know that they can do it. Gardening — as you know — is so easy and all the hype makes folks think they need a LOT of “stuff” that they don’t.
Being a part of your success is thrilling for me. Thank you so much for letting me know.
Welcome to TMG Mary Kate! I’m glad to have you as part of this very special group of people.
And thank you for taking time to post a comment.
Your prayers for continuing recovery are very much needed and appreciated.
Stay in touch.