Saturday, March 21, 2009

Organic growing

A first day of a weekend Organic Growers School (in Flat Rock, NC) has been fascinating. I've never attended before, but the mix of folks is great. The point seems to be instructive (classes rather than programs) and certainly the two morning programs that I attended about soils were both instructive and very interesting and full of research-based advice about how to use cover crops and fungi (mycorrhiza) to increase soil fertility. The second soils program I attended (Soil Science 101) was full of interesting information about how to manage organic matter (hey, nothing much about soil chemistry here!) but presented in context of soil fauna, tillage, and nitrogen management.

As a plant ecologist, and keen vegetable gardener, one of my biggest challenges is to understand the nutrient needs of (nutrient-hungry) vegetables (uh, native plants are quite happy with recycled plant nutrients in relatively natural systems). I'm trying to get an understanding of how to improve the nutrient level of my vegetable garden beds with cover crops and organic soil amendents (eg.- don't overdo the chicken litter for years and years, because of the high phosphorus levels, something I learned today).

Quite interesting......

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun but alot to get your head around. The workday was a huge success - we had 60+ people,15 of whom were faculty. We did so much- installed 2 gardens - color wheel and Columbian Exchange Garden and mulched, mulched, mulched.

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  2. That sounds cool. Nothing like knowing what you're doing or learning how to do it better.

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  3. Do tell more. I've recently become interested in phosphorus uptake too. Even someone attune to the affects of "natural" fertilizers can easily over do it.

    Hope you found time while in Flat Rock to indulge in the excellent artisanal bread or pizza at the Village Bakery -- my favorite excuse for going there.

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  4. This was a great event -- lots of information (definitely people were in the 'taking classes' mode).

    It was hard to sit down for two days worth of sessions on a beautiful spring weekend, though! It would have been fun to be able to do some gardening on the PES workday, or eat some bread or pizza at the Village Bakery.... (I did have some wonderful bread from the Farm and Sparrow bakery in Marshall -- our favorite bread baker in the Asheville Farmers' markets, and there at the conference.)

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