5 Vital Organic Gardening Topics Bloggers Will Ignore

Organic Gardening Topics

I don’t read very many organic gardening blogs. I find I pick up more useful gardening tips from reading organic farming research and organic gardening books.

Most blogs just seem to be covering gardening topics that I’m not really interested in, which is fine – I tend to lean slightly towards the ecological side of gardening rather than the aesthetic side, and to advanced soil building and food growing techniques rather than the basics.

But it is too bad few of the blogs I’ve found are talking about the most important factors that make for a vibrant, healthy organic garden. Here are 5 important organic gardening topics you’ll hardly see covered in detail…

Gardening Topics

  1. The Soil Food Web. I think it’s gaining in popularity, but still off the radar of every blog I’ve come across. More and more, people do list microorganisms as one of the benefits of compost, but there’s little detail on the importance of all of the interactions of these organisms in the soil and just how vital this is for everything that happens in the garden. And I know microbial inoculants like compost tea and EM are becoming a little more popular, but I haven’t seen them enter the mainstream vocabulary much yet.
  2. Balancing Nutrient Ratios. I’ve never seen anyone talk about the importance of balancing the ratios of specific nutrients such as calcium and magnesium in the soil, except in the occasional newsletter/article put out by an organic soil lab or Acres U.S.A. But bloggers aren’t talking about it, I think because it’s a bit complicated. What they do talk about is how to make your own dry organic fertilizer blends, which can be a bad idea (and a mistake I made when I first started organic gardening, because it sure is a fun concept to blend your own fertilizer).
  3. Increasing Nutrient Density. There is certainly some vague talk on the web about organic fertilizing, but not much on the specific goal of increasing brix and overall nutrient density of your plants, which should be one of the main goals of fertilizing your organic vegetable garden. That requires specific organic fertilizers, microbial inoculants and biostimulants used at appropriate times. For example, boron can be really useful, if you need it, applied in tiny amounts when your plants are moving from vegetative growth to fruiting.
  4. Landscape Health Management. There are many blog posts on how to create your own organic pesticides, and there are even allusions to how healthy plants can better defend themselves against pests. But that’s not the whole story. The truth is that optimally healthy organic plants don’t get attacked in the first place. Nobody is talking about that. You have to really get into the research to find it, and most people don’t do that, but we’ve known this for decades, and you’d think it would have trickled down by now. The gardening implications are huge.
  5. Energy. I certainly don’t blame people for skipping this organic gardening topic because it is definitely an “alternative” subject, but I bet it will become the norm this century. I’m referring to biodynamic gardening, paramagnetism, quantum physics and all of the other little niches that compose energy. My wife and I have studied it with respect to human health, and I’ve only scratched the surface of the applications in organic gardening.

Fortunately, I will not only cover these organic gardening topics this year, but focus on them. If you consider yourself an organic gardener and if these topics appeal to you, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Let me know in the comments below which of the above topics you most want to learn about, and also if you find any blogs that do a good job of covering them.

31 Comments

  1. Peterle45 on January 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Energy – thanks.

  2. Suburban Hobby Farmer on January 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Maybe a perfectly balanced environment would prevent my plants from being attacked by pests, but “perfect balance” is very difficult to achieve. I’ve been battling squash vine bore for years. I don’t use pesticides. I was finally able to beat SVB this year by planting late and protecting the vine. Unfortunately, a rare hurricane pulled my late-planted zucchini out of the  ground before I could get very many fruit. Yes, healthy plants can better protect themselves, but the reality is it is impossible to always create the perfect environment.

    • Phil on January 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks, I agree that the soil environment is dynamic, always changing, and keeping all plants in balance all the time is difficult, but we can get most of them there most of the time.

  3. Charlotte on January 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Check out the real food campaign. Dan Kitteredge talks about nutrient balancing, paramagnetism and energy.

    • Phil on January 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Charlotte! I hadn’t heard of them.

  4. ChristineC on January 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Teaming with Microbes……….have to start from the bottom up don’t we? Healthy soil doesn’t mean a shot of Miracle grow.  I had double digged a 4X8 spot, added unfinished compost, leaves and chicken poop from the coop. Heavy clay soil, yeah, it took me a week and the chickens scratched all over the bed. It’s done though and I won’t be using it till May, and thinking maybe a quick cover crop also?

    • Aday41 on January 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      Try used coffee grounds to lighten heavy clay, works wonders and is free!Anne

    • Phil on January 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Great job Christine! A cover crop is a great idea. I guess it must be warm where you are. And yes, coffee grounds seem to work wonders on clay.

  5. Aday41 on January 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    ‘Secrets of the soil.’ by Tompkins and Bird, and ‘The secret life of Plants.’ same authors will blow your mind re energy. I discovered these books at the organic gardeners pantry. Thanks Phil.

  6. Lynne on January 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Permaculture is relatively new to north America, but has been around in Australia for over 30 years. Read “Gaia’s Garden” for the big picture: plants do not live in isolation. We need to create complex soil and foliage relationships to overcome deeply disturbed soil ecology for healthy plants.

    • Phil on January 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      My readers are so smart!

  7. virtualfarmseed on January 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for giving the information about to good gardening.

  8. Amy Pearson on January 27, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Being an organic gardener doesn’t require a huge amount of space. Even living in an apartment with a small patio or porch you can accomplish container and small space gardening to grow your organic produce.

  9. Veganbetty on January 29, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Would love to read more about energy and closed loop gardening leading to little or no water input. Love the blog!

  10. Bret on February 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I am an organic gardener and one comment made me think of a garden guy that mixes organic nutrients and says that feeding is only done once every 3 to 4 weeks.  If you want to google it, it is the garden master

    • Phil on February 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks for that Bret.

  11. Janfoti on February 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I’d be most interested in increasing nutrient density, and in the overall topic of energy inputs (paramagnetism, spiritual, biodynamic, etc.)

  12. Stacey on February 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I could spend a decade studying biodynamic farming and still not be satisfied. Energy and gardening… mind bending concept! Thanks for your unique list.

  13. Cameron Moser on February 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    If you’re looking for a good blog with valuable information about soil building and such, you might want to look at http://www.waldeneffect.org.  It’s from a husband and wife homesteading team who have been growing almost all of their own food completely organically and naturally for the past six years.  There’s a ton of good info there about soil building experiments, composting and carbon gathering experiments, etc.

    • Phil on February 18, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Thanks, I had stumbled upon them, too. Lots of interesting stuff.

  14. Sheilamagee13 on February 9, 2012 at 12:26 am

    THIS IS EXACTLY THE KINDA INFO IV BEEN HUNGRY FOR…

  15. Jim on February 9, 2012 at 3:01 am

    All interesting subjects. Glad I found your site. There are very few places that cover as many areas – especially the energy factor. I have been working on an organic produce farm for 2 years focusing on nutrient density as the ultimate goal. All of the other steps leading to that goal. We are vertical growers and originally started as hydroponic growers. Our results have been more miss than hit over the last year. My boss usually blames the change in weather. Many of our plants look good in early stages and then start bolting prematurely. There was an impression that we were getting lousy support from the installer – an organic chemist who helped with Disney’s Epcot – so we changed to a supplier of beyond organic nutrients. It has still been slow going with a lot of trial and error. We have a brix meter that is seldom used. If I were in charge there would be soil tests and brix readings galore. But I am not the one with the financial investment. Anyhow – hoping to find some inspiration soon. No expectations here, but I appreciate what I have seen so far.

  16. Rheinbach on February 12, 2012 at 1:06 am

    all topics you mention need to be explained and covered for layperson. It would also be interesting what you and your wife have found regarding these subjects for human health, althoug it is only indirectly related to gardening (eating the food that you grow).

  17. Mr Harve on July 24, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I’d be interested in figuring out how to garden in an area that has flood irrigation once every two weeks all summer in the hot southern NM  clay soil.  I have soil testing done at Int. Ag Labs and use their “prescription” for my soil but weeks of 100+ degree weather and 4″ of water seem to compact the soil.  I’m wondering if it might be better to make small streams through the garden and water with sprinklers on the actual garden plants (but what about tomatoes?)  I use lots of leaf mulch from fall/winter until it’s gone, then I switch to straw where I have to.   Int. Ag Labs has a good website, but it’s a little difficult to find everything you need, they are farmers not bloggers and not really geared to small gardeners. 

    • Phil on July 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Have you read The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka? He successfully grew rice with very little flooding, which was considered very alternative. Of course flooding will compact the soil by cutting off air and killing microbes. I don’t have experience with that kind of climate, but some different irrigation methods are definitely worth testing.

  18. Edith Wiethorn on January 5, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    #2 & #3 caught my attention recently when I read in John Jeavons’ work at Ecology Action that he regards classic vermicomposting as delivering too much nutrition too fast – as compared to classic regular composting with just normally occurring worms. The human comparison would be to high-glycemic food – as compared to whole foods with slower delivery. I had been thinking about classic vermicomposting – such as practiced at growingpower.org – as *the answer* for improving infertile soils. In my own gardens I have used a composting method of warm/cold/vermicomposting very successfully – since I didn’t have TIME or space to turn a lot of compost. The red worms I bought for the process thrived & increased in our zone 4 winter climate. Just this summer I had the opportunity to compare gardening in the soil this process produced with gardening in *organic* soil where most of the compost is donated to the community garden by one or more local nurseries. The texture difference with the wormless compost was quite striking. My own somewhat vermicomposted soil had a *chocolate cake* texture & the wormless, screened compost & the soil in the community garden – was dry & sandy. So I guess my question to all is – what is known & quantified about the kind of nutrition delivered by vermicomposting?

    • Phil on January 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at a comparison of regular aerobic composting vs vermicomposting, but it is true that the worm compost is often more concentrated in nutrients, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it just means you can use less of it.You can definitely provide too much nutrition through regular compost, vermicompost or manure, but if you apply the right amount, there’s no issue. I say keep doing what you’re doing, but just know that you only need to apply a very tiny amount every year.

  19. GardenDmpls on January 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I find it interesting that you talk about raising brix levels. The emphasis on sweeter is not necessarily a good thing. I have read that many diabetics have their calculations skewed by the higher levels of sugar in much of today’s produce. I don’t mind “sweet enough”, but there is such a thing as too sweet.

    • Phil on January 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, some of the newer hybrid and genetically-modified foods can be made to be higher in sugar than their heirloom counterparts, which can be a problem.But I’m talking about raising brix naturally in foods, and brix includes vitamins and minerals and many other bioactive substances – these are what we’re mainly trying to raise.

  20. Sandra on January 10, 2013 at 1:57 am

    They are all important but the 5. Energy comment is particularly intriguing

  21. Carol on February 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    My blog addresses the energy component. Not every entry, but it’s definitely a large part of my gardening philosophy. I’ve also begun to address some of the other things you mentioned in practice, although I haven’t created any entries about them yet.

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