I had a conversation in this thread that makes me think I should go into my ethics and what I want from JustGrowIt! If you have been following me for the past 2 days you pretty much know why I began this sub - to get people gardening and become more eco-conscious. I will say that some people have different ideas as to what that means and before I get into it - I'm not perfect. My baby is in disposable diapers, some of my food comes wrapped in plastic, I don't recycle or compost every single thing in my house, etc. But I am making an effort, and when it comes to caring for the soil I am a stickler. To be frank I would rather have 5 subscribers who share my ethics than 5,000 who are half in half out.
I follow a method of gardening called "permaculture". I could go into the history and ethics of it, but that's going to turn this into a block of text you probably don't care to read, if you do care I recommend a simple google search. Permaculture is a method of agriculture that cares for the environment and seeks to return farming and gardening to a practice that builds soil, good food, healthy plants, and eliminates waste. That's all I want from you. So let's break it down:
Build soil - modern plant growers will suggest using granulated or liquid synthetic fertilizer to make plants grow big and strong. These do work really well, but destroy soil as they feed the plant and not the matter holding it in place. Building soil can be done with any organic matter and when it breaks down into compost/humus it feeds the life in the soil which feed the plants. You should also seek to keep soil protected via mulch, or constantly planted regardless of season. Direct sun and wind are harmful to soil microbes.
Care for the soil - Unless you are starting a new garden bed please avoid tilling or over-digging the soil. This action destroys the aggregates (colonies of microbes) in the soil and exposes them to oxygen, sun, and wind (all deadly to the microbes). It may make a soft aerated bed at first, but over time this will destroy the soil structure and create a terrible quality soil. Always add plenty of organic matter to the soil if you do plan on digging and try to practice 'no-dig' methods. Over time the worms will do all the aerating for you and you will get great tilth for less work.
Caring for plants - Simply care for the soil and good things will follow. Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden, said it best "if you buy the first round, nature will buy the second and pick up the tab for dinner". You need to create a good condition for plants to grow and all the little microbes and plants will do the rest of the work for you. Please, and I cannot say this enough I condemn you for using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, if you do this please do not advocate it to other users of this sub.
Eliminate waste - find a way to never put plants, sticks, leaves, and other 'yard waste' in the garbage. The exception here is really bad weeds that spread like thistle or Bermuda grass. Yard waste that is herbaceous belongs in the compost, and sticks can be used for a nice bonfire, trellises, placed in a pile around a tree to rot (great food for mycellium), or buried to create a "hugelkulture".
GMOs - You may notice I do not talk about these much and there is a reason - for the home gardener they aren't widely available. They simply don't sell genetically modified on a mass scale to gardeners because that's not the target market - most of what you buy, even at big box stores is non-GMO. I may go into GMOs further one day, and I do not condone their use in the least, but for now it does not seem pertinent to the sub.
Thank you all for reading this and let me know if you have any questions or feedback. Have a great day!