Thursday, March 19, 2009

Growing by Organics - Food Gardens and Sharing

The Decision to become an Organic Gardener
When you decide to grow Organically, truly organically, then you never look back. You watch the soil grow, increase, become thicker, more teeming with life.  The humus layer starts to multpily.
When your decision has been made, to only grow organically, sharing your food with the other animals in the living garden can be full of compromise.
Growing organically is a way of living. It isn't just growing some plants without adding fertilisers and pesticides. It is about caring for nature, loving the land, rejoicing in harvest, being resourceful and finding, eventually, that you are "tuned" into nature cycles that you never even realised existed before. Growing organic food is also a great way to connect, at a deep level, with the land you live on, and often it is also a great opportunity to connect with the community about you.
The Decision to Share
The sharing of garden space with animals brings more dynamics into the garden. If pest identities decide to also live in your garden, then understanding their ways, is one of the best things you can do.
Animals are often food opportunists. When they see food laid on, they can come in large numbers - a bit like a big free pantry, in the yard. 

If you find yourself overwhelmed with large populations of an animal, plant, insect, fungi, whatever - try to understand "WHY" this so called "PEST" has become your enemy! 

If you have an idea that in your garden is an ENEMY, then have a think about going back to spraying and non organic ways. 
Perhaps you are more able to deal with the "PEST" that way? 
Pesticides offer a short term alternative with long term consequences - toxic food chains, support of large petro chemical and bio-engineering/seed technology companies, loss of biodiversity to name a few long term consequences.
However, if you get yourself OVER the knowledge HUMP, and into the realm of foresight, "tuned in-ness", receptiveness to your land that you care for, then you may just realise that the "pest" is symptomatic of the environmental situation.  

Whilst some pests are better managed at a regional level, some can be handled at a very localised level.

If you try to "control" the weeds, fungi, insects and other animals, it is best to let nature help you. Observing, some learning, a few rules of thumb, and suddenly, you are an organic gardener. And, if you garden the way I do, then you possibly become a rather "lazy" gardener, allowing nature to do MOST of the work.

Hence, if you decide to weed a patch in your organic garden, it is quickly re-invented as a home, by the life that is already within your garden. 
  • Seed in the topsoil,from past crops,  might emerge.
  • Frogs from nearby shelter will come to graze on the insects.
  • Small snakes hidden beneath logs may come to find the frogs. 
  • Small birds, nesting in your trees and shrubs may come to eat the larva of insects
  • Delicate wasps will take spiders to their young.
  • The list is endless..................
Biodiversity of an area decreases with sudden death of vegetation - although many scavenging animals may arrive to quickly clear up the dying plant and animal life. Animals will leave an area that has been sprayed by a herbicide, that has been badly burnt, that has been mowed over and over again. The first opportunists to re-enter the sprayed/burnt/mowed zone may come from nearby. They may come from your organic garden refuge. 

 When people decide to create a garden, a revegetation project or a habitat restoration program, often they are faced with land and plants that appear, on the surface,  to have little in common with their end product VISION.

The land that is chosen, for the project, may be weed infested, lacking in humous, toxic, boggy, or dry and rocky, perhaps even overgrown with large trees that are an vigorous environmental pests.

There appears, today, to be a large preoccupation with the spraying of glyphosate and related type herbicides that give a quick knockdown, leave limited residue and are easy to apply.

Once the project area is sprayed, then the death appears, animals and plants disappear, food chains are disrupted, habitats become useless. This is also the same for large scale slashing and mowing - there is an overall slowing down of micro habitat, until a new wave of life-force enters the system.
Over time, as this destructive process is repeated over and over again, on the same piece of land, the over-all biodiversity begins to get checked. The overall life force dwindles. Should the harsh, larger elemental forces ( fire, flood, drought, high wind, heatwave ) also act on that piece of land, then it becomes even more challenging for nature to reinvent the marvellous biodiverse patchwork quilt that protects and lays across the land.

Well, I have probably written enough on this subject for now. The choice is yours, if you grow organically. The choice is also yours if you chose to used herbicides or harsh action on habitats (slashing, burning, over cultivating).  

The choice, however, does not belong to the animals that live where you decide to do your project.

And so, before you begin any project, anywhere, on a piece of land - be it for revegetation, restoration, organic gardening, engineering purposes? 
  • Have a look at where it is & what is there. 
  • What is living there?
  • How does it relates to the environment there. 
  • Watch what happens as you move in with your sprayers and mowing equipment.
  • Watch what happens when you approach the project gently, without large mowing and spraying operations.

What about the Deadlines?
No time? Too busy? In too much of a rush? Gotta do it NOW?  Then, at least, have a thought for the animals that live , where you will kill off life. 

Where do you think they will go? And how busy will THEIR LIVES be, once you have changed their home and habitat?

Offer a Lifeline!
The alternative is gentle hand weed removal, cutting of plants by scythe, shears, and other hand operated tools, laying over of weeds, possibly a brushcutter, mulching, and seeding with alternative, less invasive species. Gentle fire, gentle habitat re-arrangement, gentle disturbance.

Get it? Why rush into it wielding your power, when, in the scheme of things, life is so vulnerable these days.
And so.......
  • If you eat from the land where you live, or nearby, then you can become more at one with the natural pulses of the environment about you. 
  • It is a very "grounding" experience to constantly eat from near to where you live, especially if the food is healthy, grown with love and delivered fresh to your table. 
  • And, very often, you will have food left over, that can be shared, both with the animals that live in your garden, and people who live nearby.
And so......
  • If you help repair the habitats and land about you, whether by yourself, or with a group of volunteers - become one with the land first and foremost. 
  • Take the time to look, feel, observe. 
  • Fly up, high in your mind's eye, follow it's contours, see the land in it's context. 
  • Walk the land with your heart, to find it's hidden wonder. 
  • Delve into the soil with your imagination, to understand the basis of the property - its humus levels, earthworms, beetles, fungi and water balances.

Help others understand and see the benefits of overall careful land stewardship compared to the scientifically and socially geared "spray it with glyphosate" and "mow it repeatedly" policies.

The Reward of Gardening Organically and Sharing the Land
Thousands of little lives, saved. Thousands of little lives keep their habitats. 
Thousands of answers as to why to become an Organic gardener!