Welcome to my organic gardening blog. At certain times of year I post gardening tips weekly and other times much less frequently. Sign up for my ebook over to the right if you want to get my best stuff :)
I mentioned the Smiling Gardener Academy in the video today, and just wanted to give you a heads up that I think I'll be opening it up for enrolment for a few days in early October. If you'd like me to let you know when that happens, you can get on the Academy email list here.
If you want to grow a lot of food, in a small space, using not too many resources...
And are willing to put in some work in order to accomplish that...
Biointensive gardening may be for you.
Companion planting means placing plants together that grow well together (and may even help each other out), while avoiding placing plants together where one inhibits the other.
The companion planting charts you can find online and books shouldn’t be treated as hard science, but can be very worthwhile as a starting point when you’re trying to figure out how to lay out your beds.
Biointensive gardening advocates for intensive planting.
When you position your plants close together, you can grow more food in a smaller area.
Plus, the plants will blanket the soil, decreasing weed growth, erosion, and soil evaporation.
If you’re trying to grow most of your own calories, it makes sense to grow calorie-dense food, which especially points to root crops such as potatoes and parsnips.
When growing biointensively, 30% of the land is often allocated for this.
With 60% of land going to ‘carbon’ and 30% going to ‘calorie’ crops, that leaves just 10% for vegetables.
Many of us get our compost materials from elsewhere, perhaps the garden center or a local farmer.
And that's okay. Most of us are gardening on the side, doing other work that enables us to purchase these inputs, thus helping out the person we’re buying them from.
If a garden store or farmer is selling or giving away straw or manure, you’re helping them out my buying or taking it, so I have no problem with this.
But if we want to be truly self sustainable, we should be growing our own compost materials.
The main biointensive method for improving soil fertility is to use compost.
The purpose of compost is to bring beneficial organisms and nutrients into the soil, as well as improving water-holding capacity, drainage and aeration, among other things.
When following biointensive gardening principles, the way to relieve compaction, improve drainage and promote deeper root growth is by double digging garden beds.
If you’re on especially sandy soil, you might be able to skip it. I’m on clay, which is why I double dig a couple of beds each spring for my potatoes.
By moving my potatoes every year, it ensures each part of my garden will get double dug at some point.
It's hard work, but it makes a nice bed.
Here's how to do it (Academy members, we cover this in month 1 along with many other aspects of preparing a garden bed):
If you can give your soil the right amount of air, water and food, you can grow healthy plants.
But what makes gardening a challenge is that it can be difficult to get all of those factors right.
The single best ‘ingredient’ to bring into the garden that helps moderate air, water and food is organic matter in the form of mulch and compost ( part 1 ), and cover crops and perhaps biochar ( part 2 ).
Yet sometimes you’re starting with rather poor soil that’s been:
In part 1, I talked about how organic matter is the most important ingredient for many gardens, and how mulch and compost are two of my favorite ways of using it.
But there are two other ways of using organic matter. The first is in some ways the most powerful of all, and the second may play an important role in reversing climate change. Let’s get into them...
Page 1 of 17