Ag 101 Week 16

Soil Doesn’t Follow Trends


These past few weeks have been busy as I’m sure most of you are experiencing too. Mine has been filled with meetings, conferences, presentations, farm visits, homeschool activities, and trying to fit in planting somethings in my garden.

As I’ve talked to what feels like hundreds of people recently, there has been one reoccurring theme I have been brought back to


Soil Doesn’t Follow Trends Markets Do


So, what exactly do I mean.

Soil is a dynamic highly evolved ecosystem that in spite of all the good or bad we do, it has a single mission to be in a state of constant growth. It is home to organisms that are continually going through every stage of life in order to provide life to the plants that grow in it.

1.     It has no idea what type of cropping system or gardening method you choose to use this year. It has no idea how many books you have read, conferences you have gone to, or how many speakers you have listened to telling you about farming and gardening systems.

2.    It doesn’t give a flying fig about what the latest and greatest trend in agriculture is either. It is not reading all the gardening and farming magazines touting all the benefits of the next best super go-go grow juice or the magic results you see if you apply only 500# to the acre of the best fairy dust ever.

The only thing soil wants to do is be what it was intended to be which is a healthy, resilient, and highly efficient system in which life can grow. Get out of its way and let it happen. Stop buying into one method or product that promises yields beyond your imagination and tomatoes that Instagram dreams are made of.

Am I saying turn your back to all the progress we have made with science and technology-NO!

In my perfect world, in which I believe Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton are genuinely best friends and platonic despite Islands in The Stream, I want growers, farmers, gardeners to-

Start paying attention to the soil they have and work with it to apply science and technology in practical ways to harness its natural abilities.

I like Them Raw

Once again, it’s been awhile since I blogged. I’ll be honest, between life, kids, my bad attitude towards social media, compounded by the fact I hate to type, I just don’t do it as much as I should.

Since that is out of the way, I’ve been meaning to start a series of posts about several topics I was going to present on this past summer. Why I didn’t get the chance to present them is a topic for another day. 

Today I'll start with unusual edible perennials and how to use them to promote healthy soil in your garden. 

 I've grown all the plants I talk about except for one, stinging nettle. However, as soon as I get my hands on some I’m planting it.

Let’s start with Jerusalem Artichoke or Sun Choke.

Sun Choke in my garden

Sun Choke in my garden


Definitely plan ahead when deciding on a location to plant it. They are prolific and can become invasive unless managed properly by giving them adequate space and harvesting them completely unless you want them to spread. Take into consideration their height. Mine have grown to be about 4ft. Think about that when planning around shorter plants so they don’t shade them out.  

The plants are a good source of biomass to add organic matter, sometimes called green manure. Organic matter is the storage bank important for nutrient management.

Because they are a tuber they may help mitigate some compaction issues. I’m not advocating growing them to totally remediate the issue, however, using a plants growth habits can help reduce adding amendments depending on what scale you are growing on.

Sun Chokes are rich in minerals like phosphorus and potassium. If your manure heavily phosphorus is your limiting factor. That puts you in a situation where you need to add more nitrogen and potassium. Why not look to plants to help fill in some fertility gaps.

Sun Chokes can also be considered as part of a cover crop rotation, taking advantage of the remediation and nutrient advantages, the plant has. Always keeping in mind, the management limitations like pervasiveness.

Last but not least, I grow mine because I like to eat them raw. I've never had them cooked, although I've heard you can. 

Let me know if you grow Sun Chokes and how you use them. If you have any recipes, maybe I'll try them cooked...instead of raw.

Arguments lead to blog posts!

 I got into an argument yesterday with a person about gardening at a Master Gardeners Plant Sale. We were debating if growing things like vegetables are complicated. His argument was that it is, mine was that it isn't. It is not complicated to stick a plant in the ground and watch it grow! I never said it was simple, just not complicated. So I am now on a mission to uncomplicated the process of growing things. I explained to the gentleman if you have some basic management strategies, understand some basic principles of plants and soils, and last but not least have a desire to see it through to the end success in some form or another can be achieved.

Case and garden.

I've chosen to grow organically, that's my management strategy. I understand plants have certain requirements to live. I do my best to accommodate them. If they don't find conditions favorable they die. It's that simple. I have a short attention span so I'll see it through as long as I'm still hungry for what I've planted or I just get tried dealing with it. Have I over simplified things, yes. Is it complicated, no.

I'm only a few weeks into the growing season and have decided to rearrange and redesign. I've also experienced crop failure.

Believe it or not, there are plants in there.

Believe it or not, there are plants in there.

Excuse all the perlite, I had leftover potting soil from a project and added it to my garden. 

Excuse all the perlite, I had leftover potting soil from a project and added it to my garden. 

The Broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes will stay where they are.  Everything else, which includes my eggplant, squash, and cucumbers will be  replanted because they died. I'm going to put walkways in and  create sections. This way I'm not tramping down growing space and causing compaction. Compaction can lead to reduced earthworm activity and soil nutrient issues. Given, I have some success, it will make taking care of the plants easier and lead to a more efficient harvest. It will also make it easier to take pictures. Hopefully, giving me something good to write about.

Those goofy marigolds stuck there in a row....their moving too. I really don't know why I planted them like that. Sometimes even a seasoned gardener does ridiculous things like buying them in the first place. If the rain stops, maybe some of that will get done.

I think I have actually moved on from all my rants. For now at least. The Bitch is back and will pass inspection.  I have officially fulfilled all my obligations for my last employer and now feel like I can move on to another chapter. I have come to terms that my new job, however, not my favorite is giving me valuable experience in a different but somewhat related industry. See, my therapist was goes on.