I hate labels.  I am bipolar.  When I say that to some people, they have perceptions depending on their interactions with “crazy people”.  I went to a dentist for a pre-op appointment.  He noticed that my chart said I was bipolar.  “You won’t hit me, will you?” he said with a nervous laugh.  “I hardly ever hit anyone, anymore.”  When I went for my appointment, I had a different dentist.  ‘Nuff said.

We wrestle with the consequences of other people’s preconceptions constantly.  Ask anyone who is “fat”.  My ex mused one day that she must be “big-boned”.  “No,” I replied sincerely, “you are just a little fat.”  My ex.  Yes.  Apparently “a little” is not a proper quantifier when it comes to weight.

Take this label, “organic”.  Just because something is labelled organic, it does not mean that is the case.   Especially when you know nothing about the supply chain.  Did you know some crops (mushrooms, garlic) absorb toxic metals, etc, better than other plants?  Yes, it is organic.  But maybe not good for you.

And the mudslinging is legendary between “organic” gardeners and others.  Here is one older example

Point is, the government polices things as best they can, but the label “organic” implies a certain amount of trust on the part of the consumer.  We have an organic farmer down the street and they are wonderful people.  I know the food fits into my perspective of “organic” because I have a relationship with the people and have been on their farm, even helping out on occasion.  I know there is truth in their advertising.  And if I can buy local, all the better for everyone concerned.

There are any number of “natural” poisons and chemicals.  Roundup was heralded as non-toxic.  We were told that when the substance came into contact with soil, it became inert, read, “non-toxic”.  Ooops.  Not true, as it turns out.

My advice is to take labels and gardening advice with a grain of salt.  Including mine.  Of course use organic labelled products in your garden, if necessary.  My issue is with people who gleefully throw all kinds of “miracle products” in their gardens and then wonder why things are all out of balance.  Gardening is a simple matter of natural balance in which few chemicals or additives are necessary.  If a soil test tells you something is out of whack and you choose to do something about it, be very careful to follow directions.  More is not necessarily better.

As we go through the season, my hope is to show you how to grow some food for yourself.  If there is anything our society needs to learn again, it is how to grow a simple family garden.  It is healthy exercise and working with nature, I feel, is always a beneficial activity.  It is easier to be compassionate about the planet if we touch the soil.  In my experience, anyhow.

As always, I am open to honest insights, pro or con.  But I value science, and am skeptical of much of the “folk knowledge” that is out there.  I have found much of it to be wishful thinking, as if past generations had a special knowledge that enabled them to grow huge harvests.  History does not support this assumption.  Most people barely scraped by.  And they were not healthier, by the way.  That is another fallacy.

And there is a lot of those “truths” out there…gardening “truths” that have been passed down through generations that make gardening more mystical and therefore more mysterious to the average citizen.  I am merciless when dealing with idiots, however, so differ in opinion, but be a human being about it.  An idiot (my definition) is a person who insists on believing something and vigorously defends an idea when it is obviously false.  I am not talking about your philosophical leanings.  If you are a dick, you will be treated as such.

I am busy with constructing some new beds and will share some techniques I have been using here.  I believe they are basic ideas which will work in most places.  Using natural methods, we can build soil that will produce more than we expected.  If you have a bit of land to work, give it a shot and love the planet.

St. John of the Asylum




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