A BLOSSOM Era Special Report for
The Mother Earth News Fair
Black Lake Organic and the Solomon Story
The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient-Dense Food by Steve Solomon, with Erika Reinheimer, is a Mother Earth News recommended Book for Wiser Living, published in 2012 by New Society Publishers. This astutely written book is sure to have a powerful impact in upgrading gardening and farming practices around the world, and setting them on the most meaningful course for true sustainability and highly nutritious food production; more than any book to date.
This is the view of Gary Kline, owner of Black Lake Organic Nursery and Garden Store near Olympia, Washington. Black Lake Organic is now in its 33rd year of operation, supplying organic materials and advanced education to growers in Western Washington and via the internet at blacklakeorganic.com.
Steve Solomon is well-known to gardeners in the Maritime Northwest region (a.k.a. Cascadia). He now resides in Tasmania. Gary Kline is a chief collaborator with Steve in spreading the word of the essentiality of mineralizing soils for the production of top quality food with maximum nutrient density, and for achieving superior health of plants, livestock and the fortunate people who consume those foods.
The work of spreading this much-neglected “mineral message” for over a decade has earned Black Lake Organic (BLO) its reputation as The Home of Mineral-Augmented Organics, taking ordinary organiculture to the next level of supplanting pesticides and chemical fertilizers through building internal immunity, while also restoring the natural, good taste and wholesomeness of food produced in your own backyard garden, homestead or farm. This really works!
As disclosed in The Intelligent Gardener (pages vii, 88 and 189), Gary had a significant impact on the development of Solomon’s latest Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) formulation (see pages 83 and 84) for that recipe), as well as on Solomon’s seminal moment of turn-around on correct fertilization through Gary’s influence on Michael Astera, author of The Ideal Soil: A Handbook for the New Agriculture (2008, revised 2010 and 2012). Astera’s book is dedicated to Gary L. Kline, Founder of Black Lake Organic, Olympia, Washington, USA, “A tireless inspiration who has brought the mineral message to thousands.” You will find reference to Astera’s groundbreaking book and to Solomon’s breakthrough moment on pages 7 and 79.
On page 88, Solomon also mentions Black Lake Organic’s BLOOM fertilizer variations of one of his earlier formulas as being “as complete and as cleverly balanced as it is possible to make a premix”, and the fact that BLO offers those mixes and individual fertilizer ingredients at our Olympia organic garden store and through internet ordering. Go to pages 189 and 289 for details.
But the real Solomon Story is Steve’s own gardening and health transformative experiences, starting in California, then in Western Washington, Fiji, back to Oregon, British Columbia, Western Washington and then Tasmania. After moving to Oregon and following the lop-sided advice of Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine to use more and more imported organic matter to “build-up” the soil, Solomon found that the health of his family went into decline and his teeth became loose and started to fall out.
It was only after several years that Solomon realized this condition as due to a serious mineral imbalance caused by increasing potassium additions to an already depleted soil, and failing to provide sufficient calcium and phosphorus minerals that were needed by his jawbone, his teeth and his body overall. As he was not a believer in soil tests, he probably had no idea about the status of these nutrients in his garden soil, which supplied the produce making up the bulk of his family’s diet.
On an extended vacation to Fiji, Solomon noticed that his family’s health improved while eating locally raised produce they purchased. The strength of his wife’s fingernails improved and his teeth tightened up. Steve’s family felt better than they had for years. Searching for an explanation, Solomon made a discovery that shook his organic beliefs.
The produce that Solomon had been eating was grown in an area that used no compost or added fertilizer, and used chemical pesticides for weed control in the off-season; nothing “organic” about it. The reason this food was so nutritious and health-giving had to do with the soils in a valley ringed by mountains possessing what Solomon learned were some of the richest minerals of any place on earth. The name of the game, as Solomon declares, is balanced soil mineralization.
Upon return to a new farm site in Southern Oregon, Solomon’s health held up for a few years and then started downhill. Though he doesn’t mention it in his book, his wife died from a return of cancer and he moved (eventually) to Yelm, Washington - - - where Gary had a momentous meeting with him in November 1997. Solomon then went on to Tasmania, where he established one garden then moved to another site and a second garden. Here, despite bringing in lots of select organic matter to keep his soil loosened-up, it went downhill and grew harder to work and tighter. His crops declined in taste, stalled-out, and he experienced continual diseases in his onions and spinach, which he attributed to rainy periods. Because he eats a great deal from his garden, his health again deteriorated.
When Solomon complained about his situation on an internet forum, Michael Astera suggested that his problem was magnesium, and advised him to switch from using high magnesium dolomite to calcitic lime. This totally changed the situation. Astera then conducted a complementary soil test evaluation for Solomon, who then applied all the other needed materials to create mineral balance in his soil.
Solomon was thrilled with the results. His soil loosened up (thanks to providing more calcium and no magnesium in his liming), crop growth was exuberant, the taste improved markedly, plant diseases went away, and his health and feeling of well-being returned. Within a year Solomon’s soil became a delight to walk on and a breeze to dig, weed and maintain. This time he actually needed to add potassium, and he now figures he likely won’t need to bring in organic matter again. This is revolutionary, almost heresy, in conventional thinking and practice.
In large measure, Solomon’s reputation was built on the success of his complete organic fertilizer formulas, which he frequently revised. In an earlier gardening book, Solomon had advised gardeners not to waste their money on soil testing. In The Intelligent Gardener, he has done a complete turnaround and now advises gardeners to get a professional soil analysis as the first and best step to arriving at balanced fertility and nutrient-dense produce. The book provides all the information for gardeners to translate results from a soil testing lab report into the precise kinds and amounts of fertilizers to purchase and apply. Or, there is the option to have it analyzed for you.
Mineral balancing, that’s the story! Realizing he had a lot to unlearn and to learn about soil fertility, Solomon set out to study and then teach the science of soil fertility analysis and to revise his old COF recipe, perhaps for the last time. The upshot was his new book, The Intelligent Gardener. Read and follow his book to garden smartly and enjoy better health by getting minerals right in your soil and yourself.
As a post-script, Black Lake Organic offers professional soil testing services and consulting. For those choosing the COF option, we are in the process of developing and registering a biochar-enhanced version of the Solomon recipe to sell as a pre-mix with Steve’s endorsement. Following grow trial “tests” this year, we expect to offer that product as Bio-Char-min (for minerals) next season. In summary, the sharing and collaboration between Black Lake Organic and Steve Solomon has come full circle and everyone benefits.
Finally, it is said that sustainability is a puzzle. Black Lake Organic has the major pieces and is putting the picture of true, elevated agricultural sustainability together for the near future, which we have christened the BLOSSOM Era. BLO is providing the vision, guidance and products to get us there. With the introduction of biochar, sea minerals and other natural materials, the future suddenly looks realistically abundant and bright. The BLOSSOM Era is underway. Get on board!
© 2013 Gary L. Kline
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