Weeds: Why Spraying Doesn't Eliminate Them!

posted 20 Oct 2016, 23:37 by David Banks   [ updated 20 Oct 2016, 23:41 ]

Weeds, Pests, and Plant Disease are Not the Problem, they are the Symptoms of Poor or Damaged Soil.

Image result for pattersons curse photos

“There is a growing recognition that pest management with chemicals is an inherently bankrupt approach.

We pour on more and more of this “solution” each year, with less and less response.

In fact, we have increased our global tonnage of rescue chemicals every year for ten decades and, every year, there is an overall increase in pest and disease pressure.”...

“but we have missed the most important and most basic component of stress-free food production. That missing link is soil health.

The vitality of this magic mix of sand, clay, microbes, minerals and humus is the determinant of sustainable profitability for the grower, and it is the very essence of the ongoing viability of our struggling planet”.

The above is quoted from blog.nutri-tech.com.au.

I've paraphrased it slightly to emphasise the point regarding our ever increasing use of chemicals, to deal with garden pests and disease, and their ever dwindling results and the creation of “super' bugs and spray resistant weeds.

Nature has a boundless ability to survive, adapt and overcome despite what we throw at her.

So when it comes to spraying chemicals on the farm or in the home garden it only takes one or two percent of a population of weeds or insects to survive the chemical spray for a whole new generation of pests which are now resistant to that chemical. The result is less and less effectiveness for that particular spray.

It's no wonder insects, weeds, and microbes rapidly become immune to our over reliance and over use of chemicals.

Man will NEVER dominate or attain mastery over nature, and in our efforts to achieve this all we've done is muck things up in a big way and create more problems for ourselves.

A great personal example of chemical immunity is in the horse paddock at the front of the property where I live.

The paddock was recently sprayed for cape weed which is occupying approximately 40-50% of the available ground.

It didn't rain during the 10 day critical period which may have washed off or reduced the chemical's effectiveness, so the weeds should have been well on their way to showing signs of being affected within a few weeks.

However, several months later, it has had ZERO effect, not even one slightly curled or browned off leaf.

Worse still it cost the landowner a significant amount of money to get zero results, which is a complete waste of time and money.

So what to do?

The short answer is to build soil health.

Weeds are also known as accumulator plants because of their habit of mining minerals from subsurface soil and returning it to the top soil in a nutrient cycling pattern.

So in effect weeds indicate the health of soil, they're designed to do a specific job which is to help return health to a damaged soil.

The Benefits of Weeds:

  • Weeds are also known as soil colonisers because they are the first plants to re-vegetate bare or damaged soil;
  • They cool the soil surface,
  • They help retain soil moisture,
  • They stabilise the soil preventing erosion, and
  • They return mineral balance and life to the soil allowing larger and more diverse plant species to germinate and prosper.

All very, very important elements to a healthy soil, and a healthy ecosystem; without them our soil would not have the amazing ability to bounce back that it does.

Weeds are Not the Problem!

Weeds are the symptom of poor or damaged soil, they are actually telling us what's wrong with our soil.

Once you know what minerals a particular weed mines from the subsoil, they become helpful indicators of what your soil needs.

By addressing the deficiencies in the soil (the cause) the weeds, no longer having a role to fill, naturally disappear all of their own accord, and with very little to no effort on your behalf.

If you have weeds of a certain type, constantly see pests and plant diseases popping up in your garden this is a sure sign that your soil is out of balance.

By doing a relatively inexpensive soil test you will know exactly what needs to be done to remove the cause and you will end up removing the weed, pest and disease problem by default.

This achieves a permanent solution to the “problem”; it may take a few years to get there but remember it is permanent, and ultimately much cheaper in the long run.

While applying chemicals makes it look like the problem has gone away, but what it is actually doing is making the problem long term, ultimately more expensive and labour intensive.

Remember: spraying a chemical is not addressing the mineral imbalance or the underlying cause of the problem which the chemical is actually meant to be eliminating.

Have you ever noticed soil which has been sprayed for weeds always has the same weeds appear year after year and in ever greater numbers?

That's because the chemicals are doing more damage to the soil, the underlying problem hasn't changed, so the end result is you are forced to buy chemicals every year....for life!

Chemicals mask the problem:

Chemicals by their nature only treat the symptoms or the problem weeds, pests and diseases while totally ignoring the cause which is soil mineral imbalance and damaged soils.

By creating healthy, living soil you are effectively removing the cause and this removes the problems of: weed growth, pests and plant disease.

This then totally eliminates your need to apply expensive and toxic chemicals to your soil and plants every year.

Of course the companies who make these chemicals will never tell you this because you'll stop buying their products and they will go out of business.

Other benefits to having a soil test:

Once the appropriate minerals are returned to your soil the health of your plants dramatically improves which in turn dramatically drops plant pest and disease pressure.

Image result for aphids on roses photosSome of the benefits to building healthy soil are:

  1. Reduction and/or elimination of weeds

  2. Reduction and/or eliminated insect pests

  3. Reduction and/or eliminated plant diseases

  4. Healthy plant growth

  5. Reduced work and effort in the garden

  6. Reduced overall cost

  7. Elimination of chemical exposure

  8. Increased leisure time and enjoyment in the garden

  9. Vastly superior crop yield, flavour, nutrition, and growth rate

Not only that but your edible plants will contain luxury levels of minerals for your health, which reduces sick days, expensive visits to your doctor and chemist so you're not putting toxic chemicals into your body and making your body suffer the same way our soils have been made to suffer from our exposure to chemicals.

Humans are part of nature and the same laws which govern the health of nature govern the health of humans too.

We live in a symptom based world:

Got a headache? Just pop an aspirin; it masks the symptom but doesn't address the cause. If you were to rehydrate your body, addressing the cause, the headache will disappear without using the chemical and it's side effects.

In the same way: weeds, pests and plant diseases will only go away when you remove what's causing the problem in the first place.

The only long term fix is creating healthy, living soil.

By mineral balancing your soil, removing the cause, you will have eliminated the symptoms, so no more running around in circles getting nowhere buying chemicals every year.

Since eliminating chemicals from my gardening, balancing my soil minerals, and creating a soil full of organic matter and microbes, my produce has taken on new dimensions of health, taste, size, yield; and overall the pleasure I get from watching my plants grow robustly with little to no pests and diseases is wonderful to experience.

I'd love to show you how to achieve the same. It's a little extra effort upfront but the long term benefits and reduced costs far outweigh the initial exercise.

Please contact me for an obligation free quote to start you on your journey of chemical free, wonderful gardening just the way nature intended.

Kindest regards,

Dave.


Nature Had it Right all Along!

posted 21 Sep 2016, 18:17 by David Banks   [ updated 21 Sep 2016, 20:35 ]

The goal of every gardener or farmer should be to leave the soil in a better condition than it was when they took stewardship of it.

For centuries, before conventional/ modern chemical agribusiness took over, humans instinctively knew this.
Only nature has the ability to create life; unless man follows natures rules man is only capable of creating problems.

Not so long ago farmers followed natures rules, and observed natures cycles and rhythms. People plante
d according to season, they replenished and nurtured the soil so it became richer and deeper over the years. To do otherwise resulted in crop failure and crop failure led to starvation so it was very important to do the right thing according to the natural processes perfected by nature.

Then along came big agribusiness with their new science and chemicals claiming they could improve on nature, nature could be "controlled" if we abandoned the old ways.

They promised better results: higher yields, better quality, lower input costs, less disease and pest problems if the farmer implemented the modern way of farming.

For a short while things looked good but it didn't take long before the soil lost it's organic content, and the soil life declined to such a low level that higher and higher amounts of chemical fertilisers were required to keep the plants alive.

Insect and plant pests and disease became harder and harder to control, they became resistant to the old chemicals so new and more toxic ones were developed to "keep ahead" of the rising problem thus increasing input costs, re
ducing yields, quality and ultimately our farmers became net consumers instead of producers.

(Figures now indicate that farmers spend 2 units of energy for 1 unit of output and it's obvious that if production costs are higher than what it is sold for then the producer is going bankrupt. Is it any wonder our poor farmers are losing their farms which were passed down from generation to generation).
Now science understands that without microbes, and living healthy soil, our plants are stressed, contain less nutrition, and everything that eats those plants become nutritionally deficient, and prone to degenerative disease; both animal and human.

We must return to the natural ways of farming or we face starvation on a global scale, luckily science is finally embracing natures ways. Its becoming easier to find alternatives to the chemical products we once believed were the better way.

By eliminating chemicals on the farm and in the productive home garden we are able to return life and balance to our soil. By creating a truly living soil full of organic matter: microbial life, earth worms, and other micro life, nature can show us her true bounty.

The results are: less weeds, less pests, better quality produce full of flavour and nutrition, longer lasting soil moisture, deeper soil and plant roots. And the list goes on...

Man is waking up to the mistakes of the era of chemical dependence, and we are now starting to understand just how nature provides us with everything we need in abundance if we don't try to improve on nature.

So How do I Apply Natural Farming in My Garden?

You most likely already know the answer: by feeding the soil life with mulches, increase organic matter by adding compost, use worm castings (worm poo), and reintroduce local beneficial microbes to your soil. Let the weeds fulfill their role of repairing the soil (I will blog about beneficial microbes, and also weeds and what they tell us in a future articles), re-mineralise your soil, use properly composted animal manures, plant in season, use companion planting and avoid mono-cropping, and see, smell and taste the difference.

Most importantly please stop using chemicals in the garden and in your home. The good news here is there are more and more low and no chemical/ natural products coming into the market place which removes the need for chemicals.

As you do the above you can watch your costs for fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides drop as nature restores balance, and watch your garden results improve.

What are the Benefits?

Besides repairing our soil and the health of our planet, the benefit to you is true health. I'm talking about health without chemicals, without pills and injections full of poison; health without side effects.

Poor health isn't a result of a lack of antibiotics or missing the latest flu injection; it's a lack of minerals in your body.

A healthy, fully mineralised body is naturally strong and resists parasites and infectious disease, deals with stress, has a clear and focused mind, has energy, and sleep comes naturally and restores the body and mind.

In our modern society hygiene and sanitation is responsible for reducing infectious disease; nutrition is responsible for reducing degenerative disease.

A healthy body comes from consuming whole foods grown in soil which is alive, soil which contains a balanced mineral content for the plants we eat to supply our bodies with the minerals and nutrients they need to be healthy.

Of course we need other inputs such as getting outside into the sun, moving the body to oxygenate the blood; which is why gardening is so good for mind and body. Healthy and fulfilling relationships, clean water and other things outside the scope of this article are also vitally important for our health and well being.

Foods grown in healthy, living soil contain probiotic microbes which help our bodies break down and digest the food we eat and absorb the nutrients, they help build our immune system and without them we get health problems.

Chemicals such as antibiotic medicines, chlorine and fluoride in our water, preservatives in processed foods all contribute to killing off the beneficial microbes in our gut which leads to health problems.

Modern science has identified upwards of 4000 species of microbes in the human digestive tract, and they admit they don't know how they work or interact, they just know we need them to live a healthy life.

All of this combined goes a long way to explaining why we are now suffering from degenerative disease earlier and earlier in life.

Let's not forget to mention the huge proportion of processed, refined, nutritionally hollow, salt, sugar, fat, and chemical filled foods we consume in abundance in the name of convenience.

During my grandparents time people suffered mainly from infectious disease, and degenerative disease was something which happened in old age, but thanks to modern hygiene and sanitation we are no longer exposed to serious infectious disease as a general rule.

Today we are suffering from degenerative disease because of our poor nutrition levels and our bodies are being constantly flooded with chemicals that they can no longer cope.

This just didn't exist 3-4 generations ago!

In my high school days in the late 80's I was told there were between 60-80 thousand new chemicals being developed every single year and I'm sure that level has vastly increased. In 30 years that's somewhere around 2 million new chemicals which the human body was never exposed to, let alone capable of dealing with...something to seriously think about isn't it?

To make matters worse, as our bodies nutritional levels have declined so much in the same time frame they're even less capable of dealing with the effects of these chemicals and our modern fast paced lifestyle.

Data now shows that the nutritional level of our fresh food is somewhere around 25% of the levels my grandparents enjoyed, that's a 75% reduction in the level of nutritional value of the foods you and i can buy in the shops. This is a great reason to grow your own or purchase at the local farmers market.

With such poor nutritional content of shop bought food it has become extremely difficult to give your body what it needs to be healthy, even organic doesn't mean rich in nutrients if it's grown in poor soil.

"Fresh" can mean months or even years in cold storage, after being picked before fruit is even ripe, meaning that the plant hasn't had time to store nutrients and sugars into the fruit which are required to sustain seeds during their initial stages of life.

If the seeds don't get enough of the vital nutrients and enzymes they need to germinate and grow into healthy plants then how are we meant to live health, vital lives when we eat them?

I Want to do Grow my Own Healthy Food but How do I Know if my Soil is Healthy?

Sadly you can't tell by just looking at your soil; the easiest and fastest solution, also the cheapest, is to get a soil test for your productive garden and fruit trees to see exactly what is going on in your soil.

(Please note I say it's the cheapest way because trying to guess what may be required and then adding some more to the soil can actually push things further out of balance causing more problems than you had before which then costs you far more in time, money and effort to fix later).

A soil test will tell you exactly what is going on and what adjustments are required so your plants have everything they need to supply you with healthy, tasty, flavorful produce for your health.

This area of gardening is my focus and my passion because I know how much difference it will make to your results in the garden and to your health.

When your soil is alive, it acts as your plant's digestive system: it breaks things down in the soil and makes it available for plants roots to uptake when the plant wants and needs it.

Chemical fertilisers are water soluble which means plants are forced to take whatever levels of those nutrients are dissolves in the water.

Scientists now understand that when plants absorb nutrients at the wrong time or in levels which are too high the plants become stressed, they retain more water in their cells than they should which forces the cells to enlarge. It affects the biochemical processes in the cells which results in lack of flavour, quality, and nutrient levels suffer and the plant is more likely to get attacked by pests and disease.

This is the reason why chemically fertilised plants require higher inputs of pesticides and show mineral deficiencies.

When soil contains all the nutrients a plant needs no added fertiliser is required, soil microbes convert those minerals into plant available form and the plant takes what it wants, when it wants them.

The plants are not stressed, they become resilient to pests and disease, they develop properly which means they're full of nutrition, flavour and the quality and yield significantly improve, along with their ability to deal with heat and cold stress.

This all means less cost, time and effort to you the gardener, and at the same time improving your gardening results and satisfaction!

Nature is free to do what she does best and we ultimately benefit from food which contains the right balance of nutrition for a healthy body.

Healthy soil full of microbes acts like a "stomach: for plants: it's just like taking a bit of food and chewing it, your teeth are making it smaller, enzymes and stomach acid break it down, and once the food hits your digestive tract, probiotic microbes help convert the nutrients into a form your body can absorb into your bloodstream and deliver it to where it is needed.

In living soil the process is strikingly similar, worms and other small creatures act like natures teeth, turning organic matter into small pieces, microbes then use enzymes and acids to break it down further, like our stomach, so the nutrients can be absorbed by plants roots in a form they like.

The  best part about all of this is you don't need to know how it all works, just have confidence that it does what it's done for millennia.

Nature works all by herself, and she does it best without our interference.

All you need to do is support nature in her never ending cycle of birth, death and renewal. We can add some water during a dry summer, we can replace the organic matter we take out when we prune and harvest but we simply cannot tell nature how she should do her job.

The best part is you don't need to get it all exactly right, nature is very forgiving, and by observing your plants, the weeds and insects, both "good" and "bad", nature will tell you what needs to happen next time around.

By observing nature we can learn so much, by following nature's way we gain so much in the way of health, peace, and tranquility.

There is just something about nature which draws us in, restores our soul, we need nature to not only survive but thrive.

So What Next?

If you have any questions about the above information, or you want someone to help you bring your garden soil back to full healthy then please feel free to call us.

We are more than delighted to help; it is our passion and it is our mission to help as many people as possible return to natural gardening for the health of our community and our planet.

Please call us for a free quote, or if you know you want someone to help you: lower costs and effort in your garden, improve crop yields, taste and nutrition levels in your home grown produce for you health.

I hope you found this article informative and not too technical and it encourages you to take the next step in your gardening journey.

Happy gardening, and great health.

Bokashi Composting & it’s Amazing Benefits

posted 14 Sep 2016, 21:37 by David Banks   [ updated 18 Sep 2016, 19:19 ]

This issue is about the wonderful benefits of using microbes in your home garden and how it will make a huge difference to your gardening results including crop yield, taste, and pest/ disease treatment or elimination among other benefits.

Good microbes in the soil are responsible for making nutrients available to plants and are essential for creating truly healthy, living soil.

Without them plants have a very difficult time because the bad microbes grow in large numbers and can kill plants and make us sick.

Good microbes protect plants creating healthy, pest and disease resistant plants which are then capable of more than you can imagine.

Well lets get onto the easiest method of introducing good microbes to your garden which is Bokashi composting.

So what is Bokashi?

Bokashi is a combination of several different types of good microbes which, when combined, do some truly wonderful things in the soil.

If you’ve ever purchased a probiotic drink like Yakult or eaten yogurt then you’ll be familiar with the name of one of the types of microbes found in Bokashi: Lactobacillus.

There are also yeasts (found in bread, beer and wine making etc), and the last type we’ll mention here are called Purple Non-sulfured Bacteria (PNSB for short) which are found in water ways all over the world.

When combined these microbes do some very amazing things with food waste, sewage treatment, they control or eliminate bad smells, breakdown pollutants (including bad chemicals), and many other things.

So how is Bokashi used in the home and garden?

Firstly lets discuss what bokashi does and what it can compost, and then we’ll follow it up with where you can apply it in the home.

The microbes in Bokashi help by fermenting (or digesting) all organic material and they prevent the growth of the bad microbes responsible for rot and bad smells.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the traditional method of building a compost pile with organic garden and kitchen waste. A good compost pile must be turned regularly, the correct ratio of greens to browns must be used, along with the correct amount of water.

No meat, citrus or onion should be placed in the compost pile to prevent bad smells and rot, along with attracting rodents and other pests, but with Bokashi anything goes!

You can compost bones, fat (not too much), dairy, citrus, in fact anything which was once living can be composted safely, without bad smells or rot and it will not attract rodents or pests.

The whole process takes place in a closed system such as a bucket with lid, and actually has a pleasant apple cider vinegar smell to it.

The process is without oxygen so it doesn’t need constant turning, you don’t need to worry about getting the correct brown to green ratio making it almost zero effort and it only needs the amount of moisture found in the waste materials you place in the bin so no watering is required.

All of the nutrients remain, and so do all the enzymes, amino acids, and other goodies found in the materials being composted which adds a huge boost to your garden plants health and yield.

The good microbes found in Bokashi out compete (kill off) the bad microbes which are responsible for rot and bad smells.

Because of this Bokashi can be added to pet litter trays, the wheelie bin, piles of animal manure, smelly ponds, the chicken coop, septic tanks, etc etc, to get rid of those bad smells by killing off the bad (pathogenic) microbes.

In liquid form I use it to clean and sterilise the kitchen bench and it leaves a pleasant smell and kills the bad microbes.

This is a very short description of what Bokashi is, how it works and what it does along with some of the benefits in the home.

We hope you are encouraged to give it a try, and if you do I can promise you that you will not regret it.

We use it to compost all of my kitchen scraps, clean my kitchen surfaces, I treat the septic tank and the wheelie bin to get rid of the nasty smells and most importantly I use it to feed my soil.

We are always amazed at how much my plants love their feed of Bokashi composted food.

If you have a worm bin at home the worms go crazy for it, just sprinkle a little over your food scraps and watch your worms go crazy for it.

If you have a dog you will need to find a way of preventing it from getting to your garden bed for a week or two until the food waste has fully broken down because they just love the stuff.

The microbes in Bokashi are wonderful probiotics and animals love it, including dogs, chickens, horses, in fact all livestock benefit greatly from a feed of Bokashi and actively seek it out.

The microbes help the animals absorb the nutrients in their food and because they’re getting the maximum benefit from their food you end up needing to feed them less which is also a cost saving to you.

If you throw a hand full of Bokashi grain in your chicken coop you get several bonuses, it helps kill off the bad microbes responsible for the bad smell, and infections and helps them get maximum benefit from their usual food, plus their eggs get larger and tastier!

Healthy animals and plants are capable of producing better quality food, with higher yields and far better taste because they’re getting better nutrition.

Bokashi is such a wonderful range of benefits to the home and the garden, everyone should be using it.

It’s very easy to find either online, or in your local garden centre, plus it’s cheap and super easy to use.

We love to hear from you if you’ve read this post and chosen to try it. Please share your results and the benefits you get from using it with everyone else and help spread the good word.

Good growing.

Dave.

Humus, Humic & Fulvic Acid

posted 14 Sep 2016, 21:28 by David Banks   [ updated 14 Sep 2016, 21:28 ]

My second Blog is about humus, humic and fulvic acids, how to use them and the benefits to your garden.

This topic is potentially rather large but I will attempt to wade through all the technical stuff so you don’t miss out on all the wonderful benefits your plants receive from applying it to your soil.

All gardeners are familiar with the benefits of adding compost to their soil but very few are aware of how it actually improves the soil and benefits plants.

Let’s ignore the mineral component of compost for now to keep things simple:

By adding compost to your soil what you’re actually doing is adding organic carbon sources to the soil.

When we add greens and browns we’re adding Nitrogen and Carbon to the mix; the greens are a source of sugars for energy and nitrogen for amino acids which are building blocks for your plants cell walls, branches, leaves, roots etc. The browns are a source of carbon which is used by plants and soil microbes as food (plants use carbon to produce sugars for energy).

As the greens and browns, in the compost pile, break down they end up producing a small amount of humus which is a material very resistant to any more decomposition and this is what soil microbes like to live on and it also acts like a nutrient and water sponge for the soil.

Picture humus as an apartment block for soil microbes to live in, the more humus in the soil the more microbe friendly and alive your soil becomes. The more microbes living in your soil the healthier you plants become because microbes gather and make soil minerals available to plants in a form which is easy for the plants to absorb, plus good microbes help plants fight off disease and strengthen them against pests.

You can also picture humus as a pantry for storing soil nutrients (plant food), the more humus (Carbon) you add to your soil the more minerals and nutrients your soil can hold. In other words adding more humus to your soil is like increasing the size of the soil’s pantry.

Humus also helps to improve the soil structure, allowing it to hold onto more water and it improves the soils ability to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen around plant roots.

Plant roots need oxygen to be healthy, or to put it another way soils which trap carbon dioxide and prevent oxygen from getting down to the roots tend to inhibit root growth and as a result plants growth; slows, stops or even leads to plant death.

Humic and fulvic acids are extracted from humus and are in liquid form (I won’t bore you with the science) and provide various benefits to plants and the soil in a similar manner to humus which is the solid form.

It has been found that Humic acid can be added to soils as a liquid to help lock up poisonous and toxic chemicals. Humic acid can be added to water to tie up chlorine (chlorine is added to water to kill off microbes), fluoride, along with heavy metals found in chemical fertilisers.

This can be of huge benefit to those who are looking to transition from chemically treated gardens and soils to organic and bio-dynamic gardening/ farming.

Humic acid has been shown to increase soil nutrient holding capacity up to 400 times!

It is a fast way of greatly improving soil condition, improving soil structure, increasing soil water holding capacity, building beneficial microbe populations and treating soils which have been exposed to plant diseases due to lack of crop rotation and poor soil conditions.

Humic acid is also great to add to plant fertilising regimens to help prevent nutrients from leaching out with rain and reticulation, along with making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients and prevent nutrient lockout and even unlock nutrients in over fertilised soils without it becoming toxic to plants.

Problems arise in soils which contain too much of one or more nutrients: for example if a soil contains too much Phosphorus normal levels of Magnesium can become toxic to plants because too much Phosphorus “stimulates” the availability of Magnesium. It can also have the opposite effect on Iron making it less available (shows up as a mineral deficiency) making the gardener believe they need to add more iron to their garden.

The interaction of minerals in the soil can be quite significant if the gardener doesn’t know if their soils contain too much of a mineral which has then become “locked out” making it (or other minerals) unavailable to their plants.

In this case the gardener believes their soil needs more of this mineral so they think that they’re doing the right thing by adding more, but in fact they’re actually making things worse. This is why I highly recommend gardeners get a soil test to see if they’re actually wasting time, money and effort in the garden.

Humic acid also aids in soil wetting, meaning that soils treated with humic acids tend not to become water repellent over time, reducing time, effort and expense in the garden.

Fulvic acids have similar benefits to the above but they are far more beneficial when added to a foliar spray.

Fulvic acid helps plants absorb nutrients through their leaf surfaces so if you have plants which are currently suffering from specific nutrient deficiencies they would greatly benefit from an application of a foliar spray containing the missing nutrient along with a dose of fulvic acid.

Fulvic acid also helps strengthen cell walls and it also helps plants fight off pests and diseases by creating an inhospitable environment on plant surfaces.

So to wrap it up I’d like to quickly list the benefits of applying humus, humic acid and fulvic acid to your gardening treasure chest:
  • Soil structure is improved
  • Better soil air flow for healthy plant roots
  • Increases rate of plant growth as well as crop yield due to improved nutrient availablilty
  • Soil holds onto more water for reduced watering costs over summer
  • Allows for better water drainage during wet weather
  • Soil holds onto more nutrients (reduces nutrient leaching) for healthier plants
  • Plants are better able to deal with heat (I know I didn’t mention this above)
  • Plants are better able to fight off pests
  • Plants are better able to fight off disease
  • Humic acid locks up toxic/ poisonous substances in the soil improving soil and plant health
  • Humus/ humic acid unlocks previously locked out nutrients reducing the need to apply fertiliser/ lowering cost to you.
  • Humus/ humic acid helps improve soil water penetration reducing water run off and evaporation.
  • Soils containing good amounts of humus and humic/ fulvic acids have far more microbe life which aids in nutrient cycling and availability to plants.
  • Generally improves gardening results.

All of the above greatly improves plant health, plant nutrient levels for human health, reduces incidence of plant pests and diseases and greatly reduces time, effort and cost to you.

I hope you’ve found this article to be of benefit and it encourages you to give it a go in your garden.

Happy growing.

Dave.

Soils ain't Soils

posted 14 Sep 2016, 21:06 by David Banks   [ updated 14 Sep 2016, 21:47 ]

Soil Improvement Is seriously underestimated for achieving that healthy and hassle free garden you've always dreamed of.

What is Healthy soil? 

Truly healthy soil consists of the following 5 elements:
  1. The correct ratio and levels of the major soil mineral elements: Calcium and Magnesium (for soil structure)
  2. The full range of essential macro and micro minerals (for plant, human, and animal health)
  3. Carbon in the form of organic material such as mulch and decaying plant matter (feeds soil life and provides "sites" for soil minerals to attach vs being washed away by water)
  4. Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC or TCEC - explained in more detail below but refers to the soils capacity to hold onto minerals in a form plants can access when needed)
  5. Soil life such as microbes, insects, and worms etc (These help break down organic matter and also convert inorganic matter into forms plants can use).
A soil without sufficient levels or total lack of any of the above are sick soils and significantly reduce plant health and the health of anything which feeds on those plants, including you and your family.

It's safe to say that the vast majority of Australian soils are missing one or more of the above and are therefore not producing the best results.

Why is the Calcium/ Magnesium ratio so important?

The Cal/Mag ratio is primarily responsible for soil structure, and when they're in the correct ratio and level the soil structure is fine and crumbly.

Soils with good structure ensures:
  • good exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide for healthy plant roots and
  • it helps the soil hold onto water without drying out too quickly or becoming water logged - both of which stress plants and attracts pests and disease.
In almost every gardening magazine and TV program you've read or seen you would have been taught to believe that the best way to do the above is to add more and more compost but this way is expensive and very, labour intensive, and worst of all it is only temporary.

Compost breaks down over a short period of time and if you stop adding compost the soil would return to it's original condition.  

Ie: 
  • If you started with light and sandy soil it will return to its original sandy structure, which won't hold water or nutrients, very quickly. 
  • If it was heavy clayey soil which holds lots of nutrients and water/ becomes water logged during winter (poor oxygen and CO2 exchange) and cracks during summer, without regular additions of compost it will return to it's poor condition.
Once you have the correct Cal/Mag ratio, your soils structure will remain consistently good for years, if not decades, which:
  • significantly reduces your costs of importing compost,
  • saves you hours of back breaking labour digging it all in, and
  • significantly reduces your need to water your plants and apply fertilisers which
  • saves you lots of cash.
  • your plants grow stronger and healthier which means less pests and disease
It is that good!

How do I get my Cal/Mag levels right?

Start by giving Lush Gardening Services a call to see if you need a simple soil test which will tell you exactly what your soil needs.

The home gardener can add Ag Lime, Dolomite Lime or Gypsum, each has it's own benefits and drawbacks depending on what type of soil you're starting with. This is why it's important to do a soil test at the start to know which of the above to add, or what combination of the above to add.

Without a soil test you can actually make the situation worse.

Would my garden benefit from getting the Cal/Mag levels right?

Absolutely, South Australian soils have too much magnesium and not enough calcium as a general rule, it's called "Bay of Biscay soil", and I've seen the massive benefits to getting it right, which is why I keep harping on about it all the time!

Seriously, if you do nothing else for your soil then this is it.
  • If you grow fruit and veggies for your family's health then I'd highly recommend it as it will:
  • significantly improve your plants yields,
  • greatly reduce plant pests and disease attacks,
  • reduce your work load in the garden,
  • significantly increase the nutrient levels of your food,
  • greatly improve the taste of your home grown produce, as well as
  • greatly improve the health benefits to you and your family which is why we all want to grow our own in the first place.

If you have an ornamental garden which constantly gets attacked by bugs and disease then adjusting your Cal/Mag levels will significantly improve:

  • your gardens health for the long term, and
  • significantly reduce your need for nasty poisons and toxic chemicals in the garden which is good for your health, and good for the planet.

Why should I be looking at the minerals in my soils?

If you are going to the effort of growing your own food at home, which includes your veggies, fruit, nuts and berries, then surely you want to get the best nutrition from those home grown foods.

Our health is entirely dependent on what foods we put in our mouths, full stop!

The modern, large scale, agricultural model is failing us! It's full of toxic chemicals designed to stop pests and disease, increase shelf life, and reduce waste to maximise profit for the large food supply companies at the expense of flavour and nutrients and ultimately your health.

The main reason the modern agricultural model has failed is because they've killed their soils, they've ignored the lessons of 1000's of years of natural, organic, farming practices humans have followed since the dawn of time.

Dead soils results in pest and disease ridden plants devoid of nutrients, flavour, and any health benefits the food is naturally meant to give us.

This is the reason why people choose to go organic, for taste, flavour, and health because people don't want to put chemicals into their bodies.

However buying organic is very expensive so it makes sense to grow your own; from simply having a lemon or orange tree in the back yard, or a few pots of herbs to the fully converted back yard full of in season, tasty, healthy, low cost food with no chemicals.... or so you think.

What about that bag or bottled fertiliser you put on your crops? It's potentially full of nasty man made chemicals, and if it contains animal manures, which are mostly likely sourced from high intensity feed lot farms, then it's potentially full of antibiotics, and vaccines etc which then get absorbed by your veggies and your body!

Another important issue to watch out for is heavy metals in some of today's fertilisers! Some fertilisers, especially the man made stuff, contains nasty toxins and heavy metals such as cadmium and lead which accumulate in our bodies and create serious long term bad health effects.

Lush Gardening Services only uses 100% organic fertilisers which have the full range of essential macro and micro minerals, crammed full of beneficial microbes for a long term, slow release supply of all the minerals for truly healthy soil and healthy crops without the nasties.

By using Lush Gardening Services healthy soil prescription you get all the benefits you're looking for when you choose to go organic or grow your own, minus the guess work and effort.

Why should I know about the minerals missing in my soil?

Australia is acknowledged as having the worst soils in the world because they're so old and they're missing quite a lot of the essential minerals for good human and animal health.

Selenium and iodine are just two of these elements missing in our soil.

The Australian government realised this a long time ago and started putting iodine into our table salt and also introduced selenium into our bread at one stage. Sadly the iodine put into our table salt is not in a form good for your body, and it should be added to our soils so the plants can give it to us in the correct form.

Our bodies can withstand quite a long time without certain things but after time it starts to succumb to degenerative disease, aches and pains, lack of energy and vitality, poor concentration etc, etc which are all unnecessary sufferings because all we need to do is feed our bodies correctly.

It is also a fact that people are getting degenerative diseases earlier and earlier in their life because our foods contain ever smaller amounts of the minerals our bodies need. It's become an epidemic, but it's a simple fix - grow your own food in soil which contains all the essential minerals to human health by following our healthy soil prescription.

If you're going to the trouble and effort of growing your own, at least do the right thing by your body and put all of these essential minerals into your soil, in the form which the plants can utilise (not man made chemicals which kill microbes, making unhealthy soils).

Lush Gardening Services provides you with organic fertiliser, sourced from an Australian company, which exports to around 40 countries, containing all of the essential minerals which is long term, slow release, and feeds the soil microbes. The benefits to you are:
  • Your body will start to get the minerals it's been lacking for true health
  • Your plants will no longer be getting nutrient deficiencies
  • You will see a huge reduction in plant pests and diseases
  • Your workload in the garden will drop
  • No more trying to figure out why your plants yields are dropping
  • Your plants will grow bigger and stronger
  • Your overall cost in the garden will drop
  • No more chemicals and toxins in your garden for your overall health
  • buy following our healthy soil prescription it takes out the guess work and provides you with reliable, long lasting results.

The importance of Carbon/ Organic matter in your soil.

Soil should contain around 4-5% organic matter in the form of decaying plant matter, compost, fallen leaves, etc to feed soil life and also hold onto minerals.

The most important form of carbon comes from humic and fulvic acids (humus) which are only formed after long term decomposition of organic compounds in combination with soil; mainly clay.

If you make your own compost, the missing ingredient is almost always garden soil or clay; you will rarely read about this vital ingredient because they simply don't know.

Add clay or garden soil approximately 3-4% by volume of compost, as you build your layers of carbons and nitrogens, to get humus. Without the soil or clay your compost will only form tiny amounts of this beneficial humus for your efforts and you won't be getting the best results.

Humus is the long lasting, fully decomposed element of organic matter and it's role is to hold onto minerals, in a form plants can access when they need it.

This is why your gardening magazines and TV programs constantly talk about it but their belief is that compost is the solution to building soil structure. Whilst this is true, for the short term (as explained above) most people miss the true benefits of adding compost to the soil and as a result very few articles or stories explain why.

Another, less labour intensive, but more effective alternative to making your own compost is the application of liquid humic and fulvic acid to your watering can.

Humic and fulvic acid is still relatively difficult to find at your local gardening center, but applying it can increase your soils mineral holding capacity from anywhere up to 400%.

It's amazing stuff and is one of the specialised ingredients Lush Gardening Services supplies to their customers for it's excellent results in soil and plant health.

Lush Gardening Services is passionate about only supplying you the best so you get the best gardening results.

One last comment about compost; every gardener should be returning their fallen leaves, lawn clippings and kitchen scraps to their soil.

Even if you don't have the time, strength or energy to dedicate to a compost pile you can dig a hole and bury kitchen scraps, you can make a pile and leave it for 12 months to do it's thing, or buy a plastic bin with no bottom and allow the worms and insects to do their thing to make wonderful compost.

I will talk about Bokashi and it's benefits in my blog  to show just how easy it will make home composting and also tell you about it's amazing benefits.

What on earth is Cation Exchange Capacity and why is it important?

Cation Exchange Capacity ( or CEC for short) is a term which talks about a soils ability to hold minerals in a form which plants can absorb.

Minerals must be present in the soil in a form which plants can absorb through their roots with the aid of water. But water soluble nutrients would be washed away by rain or when you water the garden unless they have something to attach to.

We've already spoken about compost, and humus as well as the massive boost to CEC which humic and fulvic acids provide to the soil but I'd like to add a few points here:

We all know that sandy soils are very dry and nutrient poor because they don't hold onto minerals or water for long, so it's essential that organic matter is constantly added to help the sand hold onto water and minerals.

Sandy soils also need the addition of clay to maintain long term soil structure, plus mineral and water retention. Without it sandy soil will always return to sandy soil, and this is very expensive and labour intensive long term.

On the other hand clay soils hold onto large amounts of minerals and water (once water logged) but it's very difficult for plants to absorb those minerals because the clay particles hold onto minerals very, very tightly. Plus the dense structure of clay makes it very difficult for plant roots to grow and breathe.

The addition of organic matter helps release and hold onto the minerals in the clay for plants roots to absorb and it also opens up the clay so roots can grow and breathe, but clay soil will always return to clay soil unless the Cal/ Mag ratio is corrected (as discussed above).

The best soil is a combination of sand for aeration, clay for the supply of minerals, and organic matter for helping to combine the other two in such a way as to improve aeration, water retention and nutrient retention, plus it gives something for the soil life to feed on.

Hopefully this is starting to build a picture for you about why the above list of 5 important healthy soil elements must be included for maximum success in the garden.

No need for you to worry about getting your CEC right, by following the Lush Gardening Services prescription for healthy soil you will automatically achieve good CEC.

Why is Soil Life and Microbes on the list for a Healthy Soil?

Microbes are responsible for many vitally important roles in the soil, without microbes almost all life on earth would cease to exist.

Yes, they're that important.

It wasn't that long ago that scientists believe that allmicrobes were bad and must be destroyed. It was considered that soil was only there for holding the plants and they could be fed by applying man made fertiliser salts.

There's a whole history of modern industrialised agriculture which I won't bore you with but needless to say man in his supreme arrogance determined that he ruled over nature and he could do a better job!

Oh how wrong we were and it's taken us nearly 100 years to figure it out!

Science is now just starting to understand that not only are all microbes not bad but quite a few of them are essential to plant, animal and human health.

When the first scientist discovered fungi could attach itself inside plant root cells it was assumed the fungi was parasitising the roots and draining the plant of it's essential fluids and minerals.

Scientists now understand that the beneficial species (there are some which are actually bad) not only work with the plant but the relationship is beneficial for both plant and fungi.

The plant feeds the fungi sugars, made in the plants leaves, and the fungi mines the minerals from the soil and feeds these back to the plant. It has been found that the fungi can be up to 1000 times larger by volume than the plants own roots so you can imagine how much benefit the plant receives by not having to find the minerals by itself.

Not only does the fungi supply minerals to the plant but it also stores these minerals in it's tissues, along with water, to act as a kind of storage vessel for when the rain stops. Plants which have a relationship with fungi have a far greater capacity to survive drought and heat.

The benefits don't stop there, some fungi and bacteria produce natural antibiotics which defend the plants roots from the bad microbes. There is one bacteria which is responsible for something like 30 of our existing antiboitics used in modern medicine.

Some microbes help convert nitrogen in the air into plant available nitrogen which reduces the need for us to add fertiliser. It's common knowledge that by planting legumes into the soil they help revitalise soil which has been cropped for several years.

Recent research is revealing that microbes can also remove toxic chemicals and nasty man made substances in the soil, so if your soils were previously exposed to chemicals then it's possible to use microbes to help get rid of it.

Another benefit of microbes is they help make minerals which are "locked out", which means they're in a form plants cant absorb, and make them available to plants. This is great news to large scale agricultural properties whose soils can contain huge amounts of phosphorous, and other minerals, applied in chemical salt forms.

In fact broad acre farmers are discovering that by using microbes they can effectively unlock these huge reserves of previously locked out mineral salts to the point where they don't actually need to apply any more for decades which saves them huge amounts of money!

They're pretty amazing things really!

Last, but not least, microbes such as bacteria and fungi help break down anything which was once alive and return the minerals it contained back to the soil. Without microbes nothing would break down and be returned to the soil hence the statement above that life on earth would cease to exist without microbes.

How do I know if my soil needs microbes?

If you've experienced the following your soil will greatly benefit from the addition of microbes:
  • Soils which have been heavily cropped,
  • Soils which have been fertilised with chemicals,
  • Soils which produce stressed plants (ie they have mineral deficiencies, and get attacked by pests and disease),
  • Where chemical pesticides and herbicides have been used
  • If leaves and grass clippings take a long time to break down
If you don't see a lot of worm activity in your soil (I don't mean you see one or two worms when you dig a hole, I"m talking about seeing worm castings in the lawn after rain, and you should see worms in every handful of soil. A large number of worms indicate a well formed soil food web due to a good number of microbes)

What are the benefits of having microbes in my soil?

Soil microbes ensure the following:
  • Your plants can tolerate heat and dry much more than plants without microbes which reduces your need to water, saving you time and money.
  • Your plants are able to take up nutrients far more easily producing healthier and stronger plants,
  • You'll see a huge reduction in plant pests and diseases,
  • You'll spend far less money on fertiliser and pest/ disease treatment
  • You'll gain far more pleasure from your garden because it's actually healthy
  • Your plants will produce higher yields
  • Your home grown fruit and veggies will contain more minerals and therefore taste and smell much nicer than you thought possible
  • Your flowers will smell stronger because they're getting what they need thanks to the microbes working for your plants
  • Your soil will hold more water, the soil structure will improve meaning less work for you in the garden
Certain microbes can be applied as a non chemical alternative remedy to plant diseases such as black spot, powdery mildew, etc. (There are even scientific studies which show that diseases such as Tomato Mosaic Virus can not only be treated but actually eradicated from the plant! This is stunning as typically the gardener is advised to rip the plants out and the soil treated for some time with anti pathogenic chemicals before being replanted some years later with tomatoes)

The list just goes on.

Remember that the addition of microbes won't make up for the incorrect ratio of Cal/Mag in your soil but they will make a big difference on their own.

Each of the 5 Healthy soil factors listed and explained above (in brief) will make a big difference on their own, but in combination your gardening results will simply stun you.

Our focus is Health Soil because we know that is where gardening success or failure begins and it is why our motto is:

Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy People

"We only recommend things which we've researched ourself and we've successfully tried in our garden first, and we are also happy with the results". 

David Banks: Owner of Lush Gardening Services.

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