If your garden stinks, it’s because your soil is human soil. It needs to be nature’s soil. Human soil only grows frustration, not a fun crop to eat.
We share this planet with microbes, essential for life. Happy microbes make happy plants, the fuel for our lives. If microbes starve, we starve. Ergo, feed the microbes!
Here is what I do to feed the microbes....
Microbes in the soil environment have cool relationships with plants that we don’t totally comprehend. We don’t even know all the names of the invisible critters in our soils. Baffling that we as a species care more about iPhones than the soils that feeds us. Some day maybe soils and plants will be cool subjects to know about but until then only farmers like me observe and respect what makes nature thrive underground.
Trees and weeds grow and die. When they die they fall unceremoniously onto the forest floor. Time goes by and bark falls off. Worms and birds peck and slither looking for food but it’s the microbes that do all the work. Bark? YUMMMM they shout. Cellulose!!! Gimme more they say! To all this, humans say yukkk! GROSS! DIRTY!
Cellulose that makes up plants is made up of carbon mainly. Microbes eat cellulose. Microbes find dead piles of trees and weeds and realize there is an abundance of food. They PARTY! They mate. They reproduce. They poop, pee, die. Plant roots find dead piles of microbes and they party, they poop, pee, grow, expand and reproduce. With microbes and plants, everyone benefits. This is the beauty of nature’s way, been going on like this for millions of years.
Human suburban landscape culture dictates cleanliness. Collect grass clippings, rake leaves. Keep it clean is our mantra! But in ‘keeping it clean’ we are depriving the soil microbes of renewed cellulose sources, and when the food is gone, the microbes die off leaving the soil devoid of one half of the mass of life-giving microbe/plant relationship. All that’s left is- dirt!
Knowing that plants need fluffy spongy “organicky” soil, I add copious amounts of old mulch and partially decomposed wood chips to our garden soil to make our veggie garden soil.
Today this pile gets put into our garden soil house to cook all winter in prep for next year’s garden season.
Tech-savvy Americans see a huge pile of dirt. I see a huge pile of food/soil/microbial bliss with a million times more biology than the most alive yogurt- a tremendous orgy of life and death ready to spread on top of people’s yards to grow food.
Store bought giant Brussels sprouts. Sizzling in butter and garlic. Rice dumped on top, served with broiled salmon. That was last night’s dinner.
I planted brussel sprouts this spring but they didn’t like me. They turned into weeds. So did my potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and a few others.
I think some years it’s a “crap shoot,” garden plants planted by starry-eyed hopeful gardeners with visions of Whole Foods-like displays of healthy veggies piled up in their kitchen.
The truth is is much different sometimes than those visions.
Lucy (best nursery dog in the world) is buried under Roberto, and she must have called PeeTee over to help oversee the goings on below the garden. All three sat together for an extended period of time yesterday as I fixed the garden. Life and death can be mysterious, perplexing, interesting and somber all rolled up into one huge nebulous emotion. Dogs we loved are tantalizingly within reach...yet frustratingly far away. LUCY!!! I STILL LOVE YOU!!!
Its so cool eating out of your yard and storing great food you grew yourself for long periods of time. What the hell would one call this dish anyway???
Whatever one would call it, it was great. The tomato sauce tastes sweeter than when I made it a year ago.
Spozed to wear gloves when slicing these peppers so I bought these supposedly tough gloves.
I gotta say, If you're gonna have a garden, peppers are the easiest because they are not bothered by insects nor fungus, and you can make a really decent easily stored amendment for use a year off into the future.
...kept me out of my garden for a week or two in early September. When I returned I found an unkempt horrible unmanageable weedy Mess, and that was the end of this year’s garden!
Yeah, know, I need new bowls! Heard it all before. They came with the house!
Pick a sweltering hot blazingly sunny day. Leave work early. Pop a bud light lime open, stop by the catnip plant for a while. Place earbuds in and get to work. Pick twenty pounds of cayenne peppers, get jalapeños and habaneros. Trudge back down to the kitchen.
Boil peppers for half an hour, let cool, blend into sauce then back into the pot to simmer for half an hour. Bottle it in wide mouth for ease of pouring.
Wash leaves/rip them into one inchish-sized pieces/dry/place on cookie sheet/lightly sprinkle olive oil+salt+hot pepper sprinkles. Put in 350f for twelve to fifteen minutes till barely crispy then eat like potato chips
This was my first ever batch for breakfast this morning but I don’t think I baked it long enough. Better luck next time! It’s harder to cook whilst hungry!
David Benjamin- horticulture degree North Carolina State University graduated 1983, has worked at the nursery since 1976. Somewhat tired of eating grocery store food.