We have refined our product offerings this year to greatly enhance your growing experiences. Growing a garden or doing your landscaping will be even more effective and productive than only using our Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings, Worm Teas, specialty mixes and other soil amendments as we offered in the past. These new products include mycorrhizae, Barefoot Soil C-Gro, and a fantastic and affordable WSDA Organic Food Program Registered 4-3-3 pelletized fertilizer derived solely from chicken manure. This newsletter will give you an introduction to our new offerings, and we will have them in stock soon.
Most that receive this newsletter are already growing a portion of their food. This year more than ever before, it makes solid sense for everyone to do it, so feel free to pass this on to friends, neighbors and relatives that have not started growing food but may be interested. Recently MSNBC reported that 2006 saw the warmest year ever (MSNBC article), and already Britain's weather service predicted that 2007 would likely be the warmest year on record globally, citing El Nino and greenhouse gases as causes. What this means to you and your family is that El Nino will be ever stronger this year, and that translates directly in the Pacific NW to an earlier spring, a hot dry summer and a fall and winter with storms larger than we saw at the end of 2006 and continue to see now.
Ultimately, the end results of these changing weather patterns are crop damage, transportation interruptions and power outages that drive up produce prices, so growing something gives you not only an economic advantage but more healthful food and security. We have already seen $4/lb and up tomatoes, $2/lb and up heads of lettuce, $2/lb broccoli and up, etc., etc. Spending the time, effort and money on growing some produce can really pay off as one can easily reap $1,000 in organic retail price produce savings from a small garden. A little further down this newsletter, you will see how one doctor a long time ago linked his patients’ health to declining food quality and did something about it. You can use the results of his research and our organic supplies and instructions to create fantastically nutritious and tasty nibblings. Finally, having food outside of your door is an immense security when storms knock out power or block roads, gasoline prices soar, is sparse or unavailable, or a food scare due to Ecoli or some other pathogen or chemical knocks out the availability of some part of the food supply.
In food growing, general attitudes or zeitgeist are changing in agriculture producers and consumers from the post WWI and WWII high hubris view that we can conquer nature in creating our food supply. As the US and its allies conquered the Germans and Japanese through industrial and technical strength, America was infused with an ambition to conquer nature by wiping out whatever we do not want in our fields and lawns with industrial chemicals. This was done by converting the same plants that were manufacturing bombs, nerve gas, mustard gas, and later agent orange into manufacturing chemicals that are quite similar to those humanly poisonous substances to poisonous substances to specific plants, insects and microorganisms. The US government sponsored this conversion on the contingency that the plants would be converted back to war purposes upon request. Using these chemicals on a broad scale as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides killed our soils, and ultimately we now find this excessive use of chemicals is killing us either through direct contact with them in our food and environment or indirectly by low nutrient foods because they are grown in nutrient poor and dead soils. Finally, we have learned that this approach also kills the environment in which we live and depend upon for healthy living. As a result of this former zeitgeist, we now have dead lakes, depleted rivers and streams, dead spots in the Puget Sound and an ever increasing dead zone in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico not to mention poor general population health.
The new attitude growing among farmers, backyard gardeners and landscapers is that of working with nature or using nature to help mankind and nature so that all thrive. We have learned that we are part of the interconnected web of life, and by destroying large parts of nature and our environment, we threaten the survival of our species. Most importantly, we now know an environmentally friendly approach can provide results superior to the use of petrochemical derived chemicals with healthy plants, wildlife, soils, air and water at the end of the day and for the future.
With that in mind, here are our mission and vision statements that all nurseries, garden centers, landscapers and organic farmers receive from us but heretofore has not been presented to you:
Healthy people, animals and plants living with a healthy Earth.
Working cooperatively with the Earth supporting sustainable organic agriculture.
We now know that we can team with microbes in our soil to provide a growing medium for all plants that is superior to petrochemicals in disease resistance, drought tolerance, water requirements, productivity, yield, plant nutrition levels and insect repellency. And this is a only short list of benefits! We do this by cultivating large numbers and diversity of microbes that are the basis of the breakdown of organic residues into usable plant nutrients. In our last newsletter, we mentioned and recommended Teaming with Microbes, A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lownfels and Wayne Lewis as an excellent source for information on the Soil Food Web and how we can use it to our benefit. Another excellent source for a quick primer of what we are talking about can be found here.
In the above mentioned book, the authors came up with 19 Soil Food Web Gardening rules. We list the first 5 in this newsletter. When the word compost is used, you can substitute our Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings, because they are a superior compost/castings product:
By employing these simple guidelines (and more that will be presented in future newsletters) you can join with the microbe team which is ready and willing to create an ecosystem in your soil which will provide an extraordinary growth medium for anything you want to grow. This team has been playing together for millions of years (they have their playbook down!) cycling dead plants into reusable material. One only has to glean the obvious unobvious of a giant sequoia growing in a small canyon in California surrounded by arid land. It was a living soil that fertilized and fed that magnificent being! There was no need for petrochemical fertilizer for that tree to reach its gigantean size. As a matter of fact, it is doubtful that our current chemicals could ever do this. These guidelines allow you to set up your own “factory” of nutrient cycling in your yard and garden to achieve similar spectacular results in a child, pet, wildlife and earth friendly manner.
There are over 100,000 species of fungi, and they provide a wide range of functions in our soil. Fungi spores abound in our environment with one report citing over 10,000 spores in a cubic yard of air. You see evidence of these spores’ existence when they grow into visible mold on your bread or cheese, for instance. Of the many types of fungi, we are only going to focus on one type: mycorrhizae. This fungi has been widely researched and shown to repeatedly provide excellent results when used properly in soils.
Mycorrhizae (from myco meaning fungal and rhiza meaning root) are microscopic fungi that live symbiotically with plant roots. They exist as very narrow diameter filaments or hairs and join to create a network looking similar in pattern to plant roots. According to Dr. Mike Amaranthus of Mycorrhizae, Inc., there may be miles of these tiny filaments in one thimbleful of soil. Among other tasks these guys do, mycorrhizae “trade” carbohydrates that plants have photosyntheticly developed for plant nutrients that reside in the soil delivered by the fungi to plant roots. They effectively extend the reach and area of the plant root’s sphere making available much more nitrogen, water and other nutrients that would otherwise not be available to the plant. They also act as a highways for bacteria that are not mobile in soil shuttling them to and around plant roots as the roots are requesting their services. A plant’s uptake of phosphorous, for instance, is greatly improved by the fungi, because phosphorous too is immobile and only available by contact to roots. This fungi transports it to the plant. Mycorrhizae effectively extend the root sphere to untie bacteria and phosphorus and a whole host of nutrients that heretofore were unavailable to the plant.
Mycorrhizae naturally occurs in soil, but our activities destroy it and quite effectively breaks up their network. The most damaging practice is rototilling. Rototilling not only breaks up and destroys the mycorrhizae but also destroys the soil food web of bacteria, micro anthropods, earthworms, protozoa, nematodes and other fungi. Compaction, too, destroys this environment. And last but not least, the use of synthetic chemicals give these fungi the death nell.
The solution to dead, damaged, or microorganism deficient soil is to add the microbiology back, and that is exactly what Barefoot Soil Eartworm Castings do. But we can go a step further by supercharging the mycorrhizae content of the soil with the addition of large numbers of spores which then grow to reestablish the network. There are now many companies that specialize in the growth of specific species of mycorrhizae. We will offer one that specifically targets vegetable growth.
Mycorrhizae comes in powdered, granular, and liquid forms. In powdered form, they can be sprinkled into the planting hole, mixed with water or worm tea and sprayed or poured as an inoculant.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown little effectiveness using mycorrhizae in potting soils. Surprisingly, however, there are commercial potting soils out there that include this ingredient, so if you see it in the potting soil you are considering buying, know that you are wasting your money if you are paying more for its inclusion.
An amazing advancement over just the last few years has been the development of a process that extracts sea minerals for use in agriculture without the damaging effects of sea salt. Beginning in 1936, the late Dr. Murray, a physician, made the correlation between the increasing disease and illness in his patients and the diminishing nutrients in American’s foods. He reasoned – quite correctly as it is now seen – that sea water could be used to restore the nutrient base in our soils so that these nutrients would ultimately end up in our foods resulting in better human nutrition and healthier bodies.
Through the 40's, and into the 50's Dr. Murray experimented with using sea solids as fertilizer on a variety of vegetables, fruits and grains with phenomenal results in both yield and nutrition value of crops. His conclusion of his work in his own words:
"My research clearly indicates the reason Americans generally lack a complete physiological chemistry is that the balanced, essential elements of the soil have eroded to the sea; consequently, crops are nutritionally poor, and the animals eating these plants are, therefore, nutritionally poor. . . . We must alter the way we grow our food, the way we protect our plants from pests and disease, and the way we process our food.
"From the start, my sea solids experiments produced excellent results, and it has now been conclusively proven that the proportions of the trace minerals and elements present in sea water are optimum for the growth and health of both land and sea life."
More recently, his work was refined into a solution extracted from the ocean that adds sea minerals and sea energy back into the soil very effectively without damaging salt. Field tests in Eastern Washington in a 77 day growth of potatoes showed almost a 100% increase in yield per hill over untreated hills! Tests in pear orchards produced 60-62 bins compared to 48-52 bins untreated. Tested alfalfa fields produced one or more cuttings per season, and treated roses bloom more frequently per season and carry double the blossoms per bloom. A final example is that vegetable growers are producing twice the produce with better flavor in less time.
Barefoot Soil C-Gro is an all natural soil amendment that contains over 80 nutrients. Half of these life sustaining elements are critical to a healthy environment but are absent from our soils. BFS C-Gro makes these necessary elements available to your plants. They increase yields, accelerate growth and reduce disease. In fact, the manufacturer has witnessed harmful bugs skedaddle immediately after application of BFS C-Gro supplemented Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings Tea!
Interestingly, the manufacturer of this soil amendment came to us, for he found the ultimate application of his product is when it is teamed up with our Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings in a worm tea brew and used as an inoculant or foliar spray. His experiments with other castings products and composts provided inconsistent and inferior results.
Our next addition to our organic product line is Nutri-Rich 4-3-3 (Ca 7%). This palletized fertilizer is registered with the WSDA Organic Food Program and is derived solely from chicken manure. (Several of our customers did not like inclusion of feather meal, bone meal or blood meal in our previous offerings.) At an affordable introductory price of $14.95/50lb bag, this is an excellent child, pet and wildlife friendly option to any petrochemical derived fertilizer you may use in your yard, garden or container planting.
So there you have it – a 4 step plan to ensure you get the most from your garden with the minimum of time and money:
Now, water regularly, weed when necessary, and refrain from stepping near your plants causing compaction and destruction of the soil food web you created above. And in a short time you will be reaping a king’s bounty of vibrant and nutritious produce!
Echo Curio, a curiosity shop and art gallery on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, CA will be having a vermiculture display from January 19 – March 4. They have entitled the showing “Worms Save the Planet,” which may not be too far from the truth in the job worms do to recycle organic materials. One municipality in Pennsylvania is now using worms to process their solid sewer waste.
BREEDING GIANT SUPERWEEDS
14741 Lawrence Lake Rd SE
Yelm, WA 98597