At the end of a recent post, Gayle, a reader of TMG gave a word of testimony to the effectiveness of my method of gardening. She said, “This summer I made a point of layering as much straw as possible over walkways and beds, between plants. In just one season, our soil is incredibly rich, dark, friable, and filled with earthworms. Now that it looks so good, I’m not sure if I’ll ‘wear it out’ if I don’t add some fertilizer.”
I couldn’t help but smile because I think everyone who has ever gardened can relate to that sentence about feeling the need to add fertilizer to the soil. After all, look at what big business fertilizer is! Human nature together with marketing that uses biased or slightly misleading information has made fertilizer companies rich.
It’s hard to fathom that millions of people no longer know what our forefathers knew for centuries before us: That the soil does NOT wear out IF you (#1) continue to add organic matter to replace what is used. And (#2) you keep the soil covered so that oxygen and the elements will not deplete it.
When I answered Gayle and told her that if she did those 2 things she would be 100% ok without any fertilizers, she replied, “Wow! That’s freeing!” And it is!
Those simple principles have escaped the vast majority of gardeners today. They deplete their soil and it would never occur to them to just put back organic matter. Instead, they turn to fertilizers.
Creating a “Need”
Gayle continued with: “Even the organic gardening industry is working hard to create a ‘need’ in us with its marketing. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was afraid I’d lose a season to a bad harvest if I didn’t add some ‘organic-purchased-something’ to the soil. But this fall, it looks so good! And I’ve done nothing but garden and add layers of mulch.”
I know how she feels. In my first decade of gardening, the list of what I thought I needed to add to my soil was endless. Once I came to the realization of how simple gardening is and recognized the simple but profound principles involved I was able to override that marketing-created “need” for fertilizers with reason.
If you want a fantastic garden all you need do is prepare your soil properly and improve your soil continually and protect it from the elements with mulch. That’s it. If you don’t know already how to do these things, check out the posts I’ve listed at the end.
As another reader commented, “It seems as if it just couldn’t be this easy but it absolutely is! I’ve tested your instruction and it works perfectly! It’s foolproof —”
Regarding what Gayle said about being afraid she’d lose a season to a bad harvest:
In gardening you must be prepared to expect differences. Remember each year has who-knows-how-many variables that might be so slight you may never determine what they are. Thus, each year will be different than the one before or the one following. The difference may be a little, or it may be a lot.
Just because a crop doesn’t live up to expectations doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. It’s the overall garden that you want to be successful. And one crop performing poorly does not a bad garden make.
Can you wear out your soil? You can. But you won’t if you consistently add organic matter to your soil and keep it covered. You’ll be good to go! No commercial fertilizer needed.
Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective —- and it’s a lot healthier.
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