Here is an article from my friend, Michael Stucky from Millennium Farms, in Ridgefield, Washington. He is a genius organic gardener and just an all around great guy. (I have included some pictures of the plants that I’ve gotten from him.)
Michael feeds the soil so well that his plants grow so strong and healthy that you don’t need to fertilize your plants. The plants are also strong enough that they can fight off pests without the use of pesticides.
Don’t Feed Your Plants – Feed Your Soil!
Michael Stucky Millennium Farms, Ridgefield, WA
In a cubic inch of healthy, productive soil there are hundreds of thousands of varieties of good bacterias, fungi, microbes and other life, not just hundreds of thousands of colonies of those microscopic critters. The Native Americans, Mennonites and others were right when they said the soil is alive.
We have only started to understand the complex relationships between the plants’ roots and the microscopic life found underground. We have discovered that the bacteria, fungus and microbes do, in fact, feed the plants through their roots, and many times attach themselves to the roots to make a much larger and greatly more efficient moisture and food collection system for the plant. However, because these forms of life are so small, they are delicate and the full strength chemical fertilizers commonly used can burn and kill the small critters, deadening the soil.
Healthy soil has so many different varieties of microscopic life to be able to feed the plants the many specific chemical combinations the soil provides and to get that food to the plant at just the right moment. Typically, the plants roots will send out a chemical message to the life in the soil, asking for a particular food combination to be available to it at a specific time. If the variety of bacteria or fungus is there and doing its job, the plant will get that micro-nutrient at just the right time, and the plant grows at a much faster, geometric rate. When you first add beneficial life to your soil, after only one week you might think someone was playing a trick on you, there can be such a difference in the size, color and health of the plants nearby.
Adding compost to the soil, growing green manure or cover crops and adding compost tea or mycorrhizae to the soil are the best ways to feed your soil. Anything to help loosen the soil and add texture to the soil will help too. Organic, slow-release fertilizers can be used at first so the beneficial microscopic life is not killed off by chemicals that are too hot or too strong. Eventually, your soil will be so healthy you won’t need to add any fertilizer to the soil but keep adding the raw materials the microscopic life crave – compost and other organic matter.
Remember, great soil helps grow great produce and plants – so try to get to the point where you feed your soil and not