Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Best Things in Life (and soil building) Are Free

Did you know that over 90% of what plants need for growth and fruit development is FREE and can come from the air. Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen are the big three. The other 10% is absorbed through the foilage or roots. These minor nutrients are very important and need to be available in the right proportions. Availability is the key as most soils have been severly unbalanced by poor farming practices. In some cases the soils have literally been mined of organic matter and minerals. Organic matter facilitates the nutrient availability of a healthy soil so it is important to use compost and other sources of organic matter to feed the soil.

The area where our garden was, at our previous home, was one of these abused soils and was almost all clay. I spent 7 years rebuilding these soils before we moved. I was able to accelerate hundreds of years of soil development into just a few seasons. I was also able to triple the soil's aerobic zone (where the biological activity takes place in the soil). The result was yields that are 4-8 times those of conventional growing methods. Using this approach, we can also experience the taste and nutrient content that our foods were intended to have.

The air is 78% nitrogen but is not in a form that is useable by the plants. A good lightning storm will ionize the nitrogen and make some available. Leguminous plants will fix some nitrogen through the bacteria in their roots. Algea and other microbia will fix some nitrogen. Green plant materials is also a good source. These various sources are enough for plants that do not need a lot of nitrogen. Corn and other greedy feeders like to have some supplemental nitrogen from manure or other sources.

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