[Homestead] Organic and us
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Sun Jun 18 12:57:44 EDT 2006
> We organic purists are unfair to the huge food producers.
I'm not sure I'd say 'unfair'. Analytical, maybe even critical (that is, we
critique it). What I'd point out is simply much of what you stated, the
constraints of reality don't allow a 30000 acre farm to do what I do on a hundred
square feet of growing bed. I'm only saying that calling our tiny operations
and huge mega-farms both 'organic' is using a very wide brush.
I don't suggest a remedy for it. I don't see one, only that we can
recognize, and bring up when it is apropos, that home grown food on composted soils is
not going to be the same thing as the organic section of Wal-Mart.
> The only way to return to the
> soil that which leaves the farm as produce would be to do as the
> Chinese: sell concessions to collect city night soil and bring it
> back to the farm as fertilizer.
Yes, that's the only way in a sort of absolute sense. But in areas where we
haven't crowded ourselves to distraction, there are other sources of organic
material that can make up for the 'night soil' and other losses. For
example, here there are abundant forests. "Robbing" a bit of organic material here
and there, leaf mold, rotted stumps, pine needles, creek silt, etc, doesn't do
the forest overall much harm but greatly increases the fertility of our modest
plots. Also there are tree trimmings from the power company, grass
clippings, municipal leaf collections, seaweed (not here, but some places), old hay,
corn stover, and such.
In a sterilized soil agribusiness model almost all the nutrients (as added
chemical salts) are used up by each crop and must be replaced. In organic
soils, the plants can only use a small percent of the potential nutrients during
the growth of any one crop so there is considerable buffering of the
input/output of organic material. I'm thinking it's the most effective banking system
Early on in the present garden (some seventeen years ago) I took out some of
the turf to compost outside the perimeter of the garden. The foolishness of
that was quickly apparent. Since then there has been an M.O. that we never
take any organic material out the garden gates except the food we eat, seeds we
save, or weeds and waste for animal feed (whose manure comes back). Every weed
is now viewed as a carbon sink and nitrogen fixer, but it never leaves the
garden. Instead time lapse photography would have shown a steady and continuous
caravan of material going INTO the garden over the years, hay, sawdust,
manure, straw, leaves, swamp muck, limestone sand, wood ashes. In some areas of
the garden there is now considerable interest on the account that could be drawn
down if needs be without putting much back for, hopefully, only a short time.
Most parts of the garden are still not in that state and we have a thrifty
eye on the plots to put back far more than we are taking out.
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