Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Hortic...

Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Hortic...: Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Horticulture Therapy :  I have done a few gardens over the decades for the disable community. Th...

Principles of Regenerative Agroecology

  My video is a recreation of a part of a talk I recently gave at a conference. You will notice the tall grass. That is the best way to deal with extreme weather conditions. The weeds create cover and protect the soil and help hold moisture. We have had 2" - 3" in of rain in the past 5 months and nothing in the past 3 months along with record heat temps. My talk in part is trying to deal with a lot of misconceptions about how to regenerate land and be a good land steward.
  If you wish to work with land and grow some of your food then you want to do it with integrity. That is how you produce high quality food. There are also incredible rewards in revitalizing land to bring it to it's full potential. Soil responds to positive inputs. Developing land is done in stages. For instance at the www.Tierrasonrisagarden.com  I started by assessing the land and building compost piles. Where some of the compost piles were built I later planted fruit trees. I laid out beds, dug and planted them. In the fall,  I dug them again and planted them in perennials. The garden was developed in phases. Developing healthy soil takes time. To take exhausted and degraded land and turn it into a beautiful garden is incredibly rewarding. To enhance the life of a piece of land fills me with life. If you love this type of work you can pour that love into the land and it will pay you back several times in many ways. It is a labor of love that replenishes the soul. If it seems like too much work then maybe it is not for you. There is a lot of land in need of healing and not enough people who want to do it.  It is also an investment in your future. Done correctly, the yields and quality improve, problems become less and there is less work involved. It is more than a job. It is a lifestyle. Developing a close relationship with the land helps me connect with the life around me and how to fit into it. Life attracts life and this adds rhythm to my dance of life.

Principles of Regenerative Agroecology

Monday, September 2, 2019

Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Horticulture Therapy

Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming: Horticulture Therapy:  I have done a few gardens over the decades for the disable community. This summer I was involved with the roof top garden for disabled vete...

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Horticulture Therapy

 I have done a few gardens over the decades for the disable community. This summer I was involved with the roof top garden for disabled veterans at the VA Center in Decatur, GA. I also worked at Enable for adults with developmental disabilities and Christian City in Union City.
 The concept of horticulture therapy is: to heal the land and let it heals us. This applies to all land use, farming gardening, etc. Connecting with the soil is a way of connecting with a part of ourselves, where we come from and where we are going back to. Nature enhances our lives. Working in a garden you find your place in nature. It is centering and allows us to put our life in perspective. While in this relaxed state I can get people to talk and share about their wonderful life or not so wonderful. As they open up they become full of the life around them. plants communicate with us on subtle levels. There is also a feeling of accomplishment when people see things grow that they planted. A garden simplifies our life. The cycle's of nature in the garden operate at a slower rhythm yet on a continuum of life. It offers insight on how the world operates in balance.
At the VA center in Decatur, GA I worked with a quadruple amputee, Von Heinze, a Viet Nam  vet.  I thought, if he can garden anybody can. This is a rooftop garden of containers. Enable is a day center for adults that are developmentally disabled in Red Oak, GA. These are not productive gardens, nor are they focused on aesthetics. These are fun gardens. It is important to remember, that if you grow for food or you grow for your lively hood, are you having fun?  This reminds me that when I am out driving around in urban cities I feel very disconnected from everything. When I am working in the garden I am in a centered, more sane environment that makes more sense to me. I also spent time at a community garden at Christian City in Union City, GA. This is a retirement community. They have boxes off the ground for wheel chair access.
    With ambulatory people we dig a bed in the ground. I do not need lumber for boxes on the ground. I also do not buy soil, compost or plastic. The role being a gardener is that of a producer not a consumer. The boxes in the barrier free gardens are of recycled materials. The compost comes from my farm or I use very old rotted manure from a horse stable for soil. It is difficult to get people to think outside the box. I either contribute my seeds or get seed donations. The mind set of being a consumer in all our activities runs deep. Regenerating a piece of land offers many rewards that are described in my book, Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming. Sharing this fits into the concept of; the gift is in the giving. Thanks to these groups for allowing me to contribute to their programs.
Below is John watering the beds he helped plant. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Weeds as indicators of your soil and other uses.

Weeds are a problem for many gardeners and farmers. In this blog I wish to examine how to view weeds differently. All weeds are plants that we have not found a use for. Weeds can be used as indicators of the soil's mineral composition. The ideal way to find out about your soil is through a soil test. Your local cooperative extension service provides this service for a nominal fee. It will  provide information on macro nutrients and the PH. Plants can also be useful to look at. Here are a few examples;  Fertile soils or soils previously cultivated attract plants like, Chick weed, henbit. lambsquarters, stinging nettle, clover, wild vetch. Poor or deficient soils attract, mullein, wild parsley, wild radish, mugwort, common daisies, wild or dog fennel.. Higher nitrogen soil plants are clover, stinging nettles, black medic, chickory. Phosphorous indicators; purslane, mustard, stinging nettles, poke salad. Calcium indicators; lambsquarters. low in calcium indicators are burdock, dandelion, dock, Johnson grass, pigweed, sorrel. (this can also be an indication or acid soil. Alkaline soil indicators are, scarlet pimpernil, bladder campion, sage brush, goosefoot (chenopodium). Cornflowers or batchelor buttons can indicate acid or alkaline soils by their color. blue flowers indicates alkaline and red indicates acid soils, this also applies to hydrangeas. Bad drainage plants are, dock, horsetail, ox eyed daisy, golden rod, hemlock, Joe Pye weed,. butter cups, mosses and violets. This is not a true science and you may find many exceptions Weed seed sometimes just blow onto your land. Look for consistent patterns of weed populations. This is not as accurate as a laboratory test.
 There are several plants that are Dynamic Accumulators. These are plants with a high a composition of minerals. Nitrogen - Alfalfa, vetch, lupines and most legumes. Potassium - Comfrey, stinging nettle, dandelion.and yarrow. Calcium - Buckwheat, lambsquarters, chamomile, stinging nettle. Phosphorous - Buckwheat, valerian, Sonchus Sowthistle (pictured below has high amounts of Calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. These are very good plants to put into your compost pile. As they break down they release these minerals.                                                                                                         Weeds are the guardians of the soil. They are the scar tissue that protects and heals damaged land. If you do not use the land efficiently they will. You can learn a lot about keeping the land covered from them. They preserve the land until you are ready to use it well. They also house and protect the dynamic life that exists at the surface of the soil. To destroy them is to destroy the life giving properties they provide for your field or garden. It is not a good idea to take out all the cover and leave the soil exposed to the elements. Of course there are undesirable weeds. My least favorites are: pig weed (amaranthus palmeri), bind weed (wild morning glory), bermuda grass. There are many plants that can be used to choke them out. Keeping beds full and using a living mulch covers the bed and so it does not provide space for these plants. The use of weeds or wild plants as companions is covered in my book, Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming.