21 May 2009

Gardening research ...

Ok, so, I did some research on gardening. This is far from the first time - research is how I get myself motivated to work as hard as gardening requires. But this time I have more information under my belt and so my resrarch can be more focused.

A couple of years ago, I thought maybe the style I had adopted was biodynamic. It sounds similar in its broad outlines and emphasis is on creating healthy soil to maximize the nutrition in the plants, but further research revealed some semi-religious overtones that don't really apply to what I'm doing. So, while it's not entirely wrong and I could use that description, it would be somewhat misleading. It's good -- but it's not really what I'm doing.

Next I looked into permaculture, which also sounds similar to what I do. It's close too, but digging deeper, I found a lot of semi-political environmental stuff that is implied with permaculture. The goals and techniques are similar, and it's good -- but again there is a lot involved in true permaculture that isn't really right to describe what I do, either.

Next I looked into high Brix gardening. That seems even closer to what I do ... but I can't afford a refractometer and the science and chemistry are pretty overwhelming looking. If I had the money for a consultant and a refractometer, I think I might go this way. But this isn't it, either.

One thing I have decided. It seems like no one just raises vegetables -- gardening is a very socio-political and spiritual act out on the net. And I guess maybe it is for me, too -- but these system, good as they are, aren't *my* systems. There are things I like a lot about all of them, and then there are things that look too overwhelming and complicated for me.

So, I have decided to call my system "high-nutrition gardening". It's not as spiritual as some and it's not as scientific as others. There is little about it that is political or ecologically motivated. I just want yummy vegetables that will give my family the best nutrition they can get. I'd like to get more scientific ... but my brain isn't up to it and my budget won't cover a paid consultant, so there you go. ;)

I did find this article extremely interesting and very surprising. We are told that "compost is all you need" ... and while I figured that it probably wasn't entirely true, I didn't realize that is was as complex as it is.

The heart of the article is:
Misconception: It is virtually impossible to over apply compost because compost is not high analysis or burning.

Truth: Compost is a very potent supplier of potassium and can very quickly imbalance a soils’ calcium to potassium ratio, resulting in a decline of nutrient density.

Misconception: Compost should be applied regularly.

Truth: Compost should be applied when the soil needs it.

Misconception: Compost is really all an organic gardener needs.

Truth: Soil needs what it needs—not just what compost supplies.

Misconception: Compost is far superior to all other fertilizers and soil amendments.

Truth: Compost is a specific tool for a specific job. Other tools are also required to bring a soil to full remineralization.
But I really recommend that if you use a lot of compost, you go read it.

I may not be using biodynamic, permaculture, or high brix methods but I have learned a lot from all of them.


  1. Interesting. I haven't read the article, but my gardening philosophy is best described as "use a lot of compost," and it seems to work well for me. So, without having actually *read* the article, I find I am skeptical of it.

  2. I think it all depends on what one is trying to achieve, Valerie. LOTS of people use lots of compost! ;)


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