Time to start planning your organic gardens!
If you’ve visited my gardens or the “Gardens” page of my blog, you know I’m a little crazy about growing medicinal herbs and flowers. My gardens are all organic all the time. Following are my very best recommendations for building beautiful, sustainable, organic gardens.
Compost and Manure
We use several kinds of organic compost and manure to prepare any new garden installments, and to feed and enhance existing ones – Chicken manure from friends who raise chickens, goat manure from a local raw goat dairy, and horse manure from a friend’s barn – we have used all of these over the course of the 17 years that we have lived here in all of our gardens. We compost coffee, eggshells, stems from leafy greens, and the vegetable fiber from our juicer, which really adds up over the weeks and months.
Glacial Rock Dust for Remineralizing
When I was in herb school I learned about a book called “Enlivened Rock Powders.” This book discusses the importance of remineralizing the soil, no matter where you live. I started looking around, did some research and found a product that made a HUGE difference for my plants and gardens. What is this miraculous substance? Three words: Glacial Rock Dust! Planet Natural is one place to get it, and that’s where I ordered it for my gardens. Some progressive garden centers are now carrying it, or it can be found as an ingredient in some organic garden blends like Yum Yum Mix.
It’s very simple to use, either while prepping the soil, in pots, or on top of the soil of existing gardens. Just add 1 pound (about 2 cups) of rock dust per square yard of garden space to amend the soil, 1/2 cup around large plants when adding to existing beds or in sizable pots. That’s it!! Amazing stuff. All of the gardens that received this supplement as the gardens were being installed grew into “mature gardens” within the first year.
Another amazing and highly beneficial soil supplement is Mycorrhizal Fungi, which forms a living, organic and highly beneficial network of mycelium through the soil.
“Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that have developed a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the root systems of living plants, from garden vegetables all the way up to the trees of the Old Growth forests. Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling’s root structure, supporting the plant’s own ability to utilize water and nutrients in the soil. This relationship encourages healthy, vigorous growth.”
I can attest to that! Within one week of applying MycoGrow to my most difficult garden, there was a marked improvement in the vitality and growth of the entire garden. In another area of my yard, one particular old rose that had been struggling and yellowish despite my use of blood meal, bone meal, fish meal, iron and other supplementation began growing new green foliage just one week after application.
As stated, the benefits to the garden plants are amazing. The relationship formed between the fungi and the plant roots allows for dramatically increased availability of nutrients and water to the plants. I have spoken to several organic gardeners about mycorrhizal fungi, and all reports indicate improved growth and stability of plants, even (and especially) during the very hot and dry summer months here in Colorado. Not to mention the relationship formed with other friendly fungi and bacteria in the soil. Soil health = garden health = a better world = more nutritious and beautiful plants.
Just one ounce of MycoGrow will treat 200 plants. To apply to small areas or individual plants, mix 1 tablespoon of MycoGrow with 5 gallons of water, pull back any mulch, and water each plant with about 3/4 cup of the mixture and then water in. When installing a new garden area, soak the roots of the new plants in a solution of MycoGrow prior to planting. It may seem expensive, but 1 pound goes a long, long way, and the benefits are immediate and lasting.
Bees benefit from mycelium!
There is new evidence that bees benefit from the presence of mycelium in the garden. We know that many mushrooms strengthen the immune systems of humans. Paul Stamets has observed bees consuming mycelium in his garden, and he talks at length about this and much more in this presentation. Paul is standing up for the earth and his knowledge about fungi may be our only hope for detoxing the planet.
Age Old Grow Organic Plant Food
I’m not sure when I discovered this product, but organic Age Old Grow has been my go-to plant food for all my plants, both inside and out, for many years. I’ve gotten fantastic results with orchids and streptocarpus indoors, and all of my garden and potted plants outdoors by applying it once a month or every other month all season long. Amazing stuff!
So there you have it. These are the main ingredients needed to build a thriving, sustainable organic garden – in the earth or in pots.
See you in the garden!