When you think of a forest, it doesn’t need humans to thrive and feed all of the monkeys, lions, tigers and bears… So why is so hard sometimes for us to easily grow our own abundance, just as the forest does it so easily for thousands of different species? The answer always pertains to natural principles and how natural processes work, and how we often go against them in our agricultural and gardening attempts. We plant one thing over and over again in a monotonous pattern instead of intermixing different plants that pull out different nutrients and do different things in order to maximize usefulness of space and increase the diversity and in turn the resiliency of the landscape.
We have spent the majority of our lives researching and experimenting and have developed and refined the main key principles to work with nature instead of against it while growing delicious and nutritious (and getting more and more expensive) organic produce in Ventura, CA. With our techniques and designs, 90% of the plants in your landscape can produce food while 10% is recommended for nitrogen fixers and bio-accumulators / cover crops for slash and drop mulching.
What conventional agriculture does verses what we do
Humans have generally figured out the basic chemistry of plants and their macro-nutrient requirements (elements needed in large amounts by plants) and their water sunlight and air needs, but have yet to fully understand all of micro-nutrients/elements at work in the soil and the complex interactions between plant species, fungi and plants, bacteria and plants, etc. That’s not to say we haven’t learned a lot about the above, but there is still plenty more to learn.
We often hear and see on fertilizer products that plants need the macro-nutrients (needed in large amounts) NPK: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and they don’t really talk about much else. Sometimes they list some of the other lesser needed nutrients, but what they don’t tell you is that you can make your own for free by turning common waste into a renewable resource with composting.
What we do know is this: sunlight and fresh air is one of the best natural disinfectants and natural rain water is one of the best natural sources of nitrogen, as neutral / slightly acidic rain dissolves atmospheric nitrogen as it falls through the air and delivers it into the soil. We also know certain fungi and bacteria form mutually beneficial or symbiotic relationships with plants, creating underground networks of nutrient and water exchange, recycling, and transport systems so that they can even better survive drought and defend themselves against pests, disease, and pathogens.
What most conventional agriculture doesn’t understand is that when you pour large amounts of any certain chemical on the soil such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, weed-killers, herbicides, fungicides, etc., you kill and completely disrupt the balance of the populations of these microscopic workers that are turning leaves into black gold for your food forest. Not only that, you can even kill all of the worms in your soil which are crucial for digging tunnels to create air pockets and pathways filled with worm castings for roots to grow and thrive in. Plant roots need air, too (oxygen, specifically).
This leads to poorly structured and infertile soil that looks like dead compacted clay, bland and light in color (unlike the loose, dark colored, and rich soil found in forests floors and healthy gardens). This is what we must reverse (at first with initial amendments, and then with renewable natural processes) if we want to establish a food forest that uses 1/2 the water of a typical lawn while also providing copious amounts of nutrient dense food in the form of sweet, delicious fruits and vegetables.
We work with nature, as nature intended, to allow your landscape to fertilize itself for the most part. Replacement of certain trace minerals may be required if you are growing plants that require a large amount of a certain element that is just normally present in low levels in our native soils. We can determine all of this in our consultations.