Series: The 80-20 Rule
I’m a big fan of spraying organic seaweed fertilizer at least once a month in my garden.
I do this primarily to help my plants deal with heat, cold, wind, drought and disease.
But that’s not the most important ingredient my garden needs.
We’re talking about the 80-20 rule this week in order to simplify our gardening chores.
If you haven’t already, you might want to read the first post in the series.
Basically, in the garden (and in many areas of our lives), there’s a possibility we can get close to 80% of the results for just 20% of the work, if we can figure out which are the most impactful tasks that should comprise that 20%.
In the above article, I asked you what the 1 or 2 tasks are you figure make the most difference in the success of your garden.
Your answers were very insightful. It’s interesting to see how for one person, “fencing to keep deer, rabbits and coons out” is a vitally important task, while for someone else, “more perennials, onions, leeks, fruit trees, berries and self-sowing plants” is the focus.
Certainly if deer are eating your garden overnight, a fence very clearly becomes your 80-20 rule, and if you’re trying to delegate as many gardening tasks as possible over to nature to handle for you, then using more perennials and self-sowing plants becomes an excellent 80-20 rule.
I encourage you to read the comments in that post for some other great ideas.
Today, I’d like to share what I think are the most important 80-20 rule ‘ingredients’ for the success of most gardens, and down below I’ll ask you again for your thoughts.
I think the most important ingredient my garden needs is also the most important ingredient I need: air.
I think the next most important ingredient for me and my garden is: water.
I think the next most important ingredient is: food.
Air. I need only the oxygen, but plants need the oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. They need it above and below ground. Above ground is generally not a problem, but below ground may require our help if the soil is compacted. It’s easy enough to achieve that in the short term with some tilling or digging, but a little more complex in the long run – especially if we’re going for 80-20 gardening, and if we care about optimal soil health. Ultimately, air accounts for nearly 50% of a plant’s mass.
Water. This one’s relatively easy if you have enough water in the tap, so to speak, and obviously very hard if you don’t, as billions of people around the world already know (if you’re thinking of writing a gardening book, write one about how to garden with very little water – it will be a very important book). Even those of us who have access to water often do a poor job on watering, but if we can somehow give ourselves a little weekly or twice weekly reminder to survey the garden, we can solve this one easily. Of course, improving the soil so that it holds more water is the other half of the story. Ultimately, water also accounts for nearly 50% of a plant’s mass.
Food. This includes vitamins and minerals and other such substances. I also include soil microorganisms in the food category because they play a crucial role in helping plants get their food. Interestingly, the composition of plants is about 95% carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, all of which are supplied by the air and water above, but that remaining 5% – the food – is vitally important, and fortunately, nature will provide a lot of it for us if we just lend a little help in the beginning.
In two days, we’ll talk about the one ingredient you can bring into your garden that will supply all of the above ingredients – if you use it thoughtfully.
Do you agree with my proposal here of air, water and food being a good basis for our 80-20 focus?
Do you have anything to add or subtract? I’d love to hear what you have to say down below…