As seen in: Issue 25

Garden Goals: Listening To Nature And Striking Balance

Are you looking for an edge in your garden this year? Then strive for balance, something achieved through keen observation of Mother Nature. 

Ever since the beginning of modern agriculture, farmers have been looking for ways to manipulate nature to improve gardening productivity. The majority have relied heavily on the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides to increase yields, while also ridding their fields of problems and pests. But why are these problems occurring in the first place? Many mainstream farmers and gardeners are ignoring Mother Nature’s warning.

balance in the garden

If there is a problem in the garden, it’s directly related to an imbalance. Whether it’s too many pests, not enough nutrition, or too much salt, an imbalance is to blame. Most gardeners assume they lack something when things aren’t going right, but more often than not, that is not the case. To understand what causes an imbalance in the garden, we have to look beyond the standard N-P-K levels, and this is where organics and bio-dynamics come into play. 

About N-P-K

N-P-K levels have been the standard measurement of fertilizer since the 1800s, but it ignores a massive part of the equation when it comes to gardening elementally. As many of us already know, the abbreviation “N-P-K” stands for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. They represent only three of 115 elements in the elemental chart, and yet many gardeners believe they are the key to achieving balance. In the grand scheme of things, a balance of all essential elements is necessary,  and this is where synthetic gardening and organic gardening contradict each other.  

In synthetic gardening, there are three macroelements and generally up to 15 microelements that are said to be of use with no regard for the biology required to assimilate them. However, in a forest, it takes a proper balance on many levels to achieve the uninhibited growth every gardener wants. 

Listen To Nature

One can best learn to promote balance by observing and understanding Mother Nature in a natural, unhindered state. Only then can a more natural balance be created in the garden, as well as in our bodies. A natural balance in a garden leads to healthier, happier plants with less stress and disease. Studies have even shown how produce grown in a naturally-balanced environment has a greater potential to provide us with more nourishment once consumed.  

balance in the garden

What we put into our plants is what we get out of it. An average synthetic nutrient has roughly 13-15 elements out of the 115 possible. However, by using proper compost tea prepared with the right organic ingredients, that number can potentially reach over 100, leading to better nourishment for your plants and better food for your body. It’s similar to taking natural vitamins right from the source in the best form possible. Plain and simple, balance is harmony, and that is what nature is ultimately striving for. It is essential for vitality in all life.

Long before the use of synthetic chemicals, people relied on keen observations of celestial cycles, as well as weather and growth patterns in their surrounding environment. Through these observations, farmers learned to work in harmony with Mother Nature, and many bio-dynamic and organic farming practices were born. Bio-dynamics is a belief that a garden isn’t just a thing, but a living, breathing entity all of its own. When we follow the natural guidelines, truly astounding results can be achieved in the garden. Many world records for vegetables have been set through natural organic and bio-dynamic practices, and entire communities have been built around gardening in this way, such as The Findhorn Community.

Know Your Surroundings

When we truly understand our surroundings, Mother Nature can teach us how to nourish the land naturally. By composting various forest items, using fine rock powders containing a plethora of essential elements, as well as organic compost teas, farmers can learn to grow highly nutritious food completely free of chemicals. It takes an intent observation, but amazing results have been achieved through these age-old practices. 

balance in the garden

Planting and harvesting dates, as well as applications of compost and teas, are generally based on particular planetary and lunar cycles. The direction in which you spin the water while mixing nutrients has been shown in studies to be influential in your garden as well. Clockwise rotation is said to promote flowering plants, while a counter-clockwise rotation is supposed to support plants that are in vegetative stages. Bio-dynamic farmers have even suggested that singing the right tones while applying teas can imprint the water and the plants with vibrations that seem to affect the garden positively. 

Connect With The Garden

There are many aspects of nature we don’t quite understand, and yet, nature is all there is, and we are all connected as an integral part of it. We need to rekindle our connection with nature to get back to balance. 

Natural gardens can make that possible. The connection is all around us. Studies have found the sound of crickets singing at night helps signal plants to open their stomata and take in the settling dew from the day. It is assumed the birds announce the morning’s arrival and prepare the plants for the day. These are just a few of the many examples proving there is so much quietly going on around us. If we slow down and look just right, we might find the key to balance right at our feet.

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Growing up on a deer farm located on 79 acres of land along the banks of one of Lake Michigan's tributaries, Tom grew a love for nature and all the beauties it could hold. Through that passion Tom has channeled his influences into educating the community on sustainable agriculture, becoming an activist, writing for magazines and creating music tuned to nature in his band Cosmic Knot.