biology, not chemistry

If you’re not too busy in the garden, this article is well worth a read…

Gardening Is Biology not Chemistry

The article’s a little complex to distill in a few sentences, but it makes wonderful sense to me.  Considering the garden soil biologically rather than chemically reminds me that life in the garden soil is just as important as life above it.  There are chemical compounds involved, but that’s just a one dimension of a many-dimensional, living organism.

This time of year things get really satisfying. The hardware jungle begins to cover in green, and the freezer starts to fill.  The above-ground portion of my living organism makes me happy that I pay so much attention to the other, less visible part.

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the organism in mid-July

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16 thoughts on “biology, not chemistry

  1. Pingback: biology, not chemistry | vegetablurb | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

  2. Ha! I just finished reading that before I saw this post. While I agree with the general premise, there are differences between a natural ecosystem and a garden where non-native plants are cultivated and pounds of biomass are removed regularly. However, using those underlying biological systems to repair, restore and maintain the garden’s health is THE only sustainable way to go.

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  3. The underworld of biology is the reason I gave away the tiller. With a little stewardship — and not a lot of ‘managing’ — a no-dig garden plot provides abundant fruits. The two tomato volunteers that emerged from the keyhole are prolific producers! One of the came out of the SIDE of the brick wall. They have all they need, even though the layered substrate may not be considered dirt by others’ standards.

    Of course healthy soil does nothing for the raccoon and critters who also love the fruits…

    “Teaming with Microbes” is a great book to read, if only in fits and starts.

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    • I’m not ready to give up the tiller, and might never be. But I am going to try to reorganize the garden layout so that it has to be used minimally.

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      • Perhaps you can set aside a small 4×4 plot that you can not till and experiment! I’m telling you, there is really something to it. Leaving the mycelium mat in tact will bring you that much further ahead in your season.

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      • This seems like a perfect subject to obsess over during the winter. The logistic point I haven’t worked out is how the whole concept would fit into a rotation, with one or two beds being no-till. And I’d need to reason out how cover crops would work into the scheme. Anyway, I do appreciate your encouragement Shannon!

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      • My beds don’t ever ‘over-winter,’ so all I do is continually layer organic matter and compost during growing and between crops. I’ve no experience with cover crops. But here’s what I would do, for what it’s worth.

        Plant a cover crop as usual. When you’re ready to plant, stomp down the green and lay down a wet layer of cardboard ON TOP of it all (rather than plowing it under). Then layer more materials 12″ high like you would a compost pile. Finish with a top layer of compost and sow (or plant seedlings) into that, top with leaves or straw. The roots will know what to do! I swear, it’s that easy.

        I agree! It’s a great project that you can share success (or failure) with others. You are an incredible writer and journaler.

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  4. Lovely garden, interesting post. I have been reading more and more about no-till gardens. Harvey Ussery uses chickens to till in cover crops. Is that roll fencing on your tomatoes? I think tomatoes? Ours broke the tomato cages this year, looking at alternatives…

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    • Thanks Daphne! The wire is concrete reinforcing wire (remesh) available at home improvement stores like Lowe’s. It comes in rolls 100′ long. I use 7′ for each cage, it’s an investment, but it lasts.

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