Advancing Organic Gardening

by Gary Kline

 

I first heard about Organic Gardening more than 40 years ago, in 1970, at Oregon State University , while planning and participating as co-chairman of the first Earth Day and Earth Week activities held there.  I was studying biology, ecology and wildlife management.  Before environmentalism came along, I was a long-time conservationist.  I had a particular concern about loss of wildlife, the destruction of nature, pesticides and the rampant pollution of our environment. 

It was about that time I picked up my first little book on organic gardening by Rodale and decided that was for me.  I had two organic food gardens where I lived previously before coming to

Black Lake , and for several years had large gardens here before becoming immersed in developing Black Lake Organic.  Back then we organic gardeners were seen as kooks. 

In the meantime, organic gardening became highly popular, with a majority of American gardeners identifying themselves as organic practitioners.  If you ask people what organic gardening is, even today, they would say it is growing plants without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and digging in lots of compost or organic matter to enrich the soil.

Well, that’s all to the good, and that’s the way I used to see it.  But avoiding use of chemicals and pesticides is what you don’t do.  How does merely refraining from something bring about improvement of your plants or the quality of crops you grow to eat?  Adding organic matter, compost or humus to the soil is a positive measure to improve your soil and thereby improve your plants or crops - - - up to a point.  But there is such a thing as too much organic matter, and even J. I. Rodale, founder of Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine, said there is a point beyond which it becomes pointless and even detrimental.

Back in 1997, through the influence of Steve Solomon, founder of Territorial Seed Company in

Oregon , I became familiar with the works of Dr. William A. Albrecht, former Chairman of the Department of Soils at the Universityof Missouri , and writings of his colleagues and disciples.  Those writings caused me to change my perspective on agriculture and organiculture, and, in fact, my entire outlook on the world.  Suddenly I had the key to unlocking and interpreting how the world and gardening works, or not. It was hard giving up my cherished beliefs about organic gardening methods, but the research and logic forced me to convert and become a disciple of Ecological Agriculture.

I believe all organic gardeners and growers would benefit immensely by learning the principles of Ecological Agriculture, which I have reduced to a concept I arrived at in May of 1998, which I have termed Mineral-Augmented Organics (MAO). 

Essentially, my new paradigm, or perspective, is that organic matter is only half the picture of soil fertility.  Inorganic matter, namely nutrient minerals, is the other indispensable half.  The organic school of gardening and farming has been essentially oblivious to the crucial importance of minerals, even though Rodale, himself, pointed it out.  Organic gardeners and growers need to get the whole picture to be successful at growing and to arrive at real health. 

Supplying the mineral component is the pro-active, positive action we all need to take for the improvement of soil fertility and the achievement of full nutrition in our soils, in our crops, and in ourselves.  Nothing is more important in my view.  As Dr. Albrecht would say, “To be well fed is to be healthy”.  Nothing is more important than your health.  Not until one has that full picture can organics advance to the higher level it has always needed to be at.  Over the past dozen years I have written and preached the mineral message.  It is a rightfully dominant and recurring (but not exclusive) theme in many of the articles contained in our newly created

Black Lake Organic Learning Center .  You are invited, indeed urged, to go there. 

                                                                                                                            

GLK

© 2011 Gary L. Kline

All Rights Reserved


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