Jim's Five Minute Garden
Get Greens from your garden 8 or 9 months a year!
A Five Minute Garden requires putting Nature back in the picture.
See our CD Rom Herbal Odyssey for extensive sustainable gardening tips.
To shorten your work time and to lengthen the time you can enjoy your garden, plant more perennials--hardy, endemic perennials are best. Open pollinated annual herbs will reseed such as: cherry tomatoes, Asiatic dayflower, borage, fennel, dill, coriander, Chinese cabbage, bok choy.
The following plant foods provide good nutrition in February and March: dandelions, chickweed, violets, sorrel, lovage, plantain, nettle, day lilies, wild leeks, watercress and dock. Lovage, fennel and parsley will provide March and April bounty. Lemon balm and anise hyssop are good choices that can be used in tea or judiciously in salads. All mints will payback in early spring, in salads, desserts, drinks. (Need help? order: Edible Wild Plants video and the book Basic Essentials of Edible Wild Plants and Cooking with Edible Flowers and Culinary Herbs.
Alfalfa and manure are the best mulching materials. PEAT IS NOT GOOD AS IT MAY ROB NITROGEN FROM THE SOIL. Stinging nettles, dandelions and dock are mineral rich, include roots. BANANA PEELS AND EGG SHELLS ARE EXCELLENT. I use a lot of grass and weeds. I build piles here and there, preferably in places where there is sun and shade, on low, wet ground. Put weeds, grass, dead heads, old bouquets, vegetable scraps in a layer, cover with a layer of straw, then another layer of weeds, grass, vegetable scraps then straw again. This will be three or four feet tall and as wide near the end of the season. I DON'T COVER IT, I DON'T TURN IT AND I DON'T WATER IT. It rots from the bottom up and needs only one turn in November. I NEVER USE THIS MULCH THE SAME YEAR. BY THE SPRING OF THE NEXT YEAR IT IS FULL OF LIFE, PRIMARILY EARTHWORMS AND MICRO-ORGANISMS. NOW IT IS READY TO USE IN THE GARDEN.
The best garden soil is rich with life. Nitrogen from the air is a great source of plant building material. Soil teeming with life provides pathways for nitrogen to get into the soil.
In the fall, I spread 50 pounds of cracked corn on my garden. THEN I SHRED SWEET LEAVES (WILLOW, MAPLE) AND SPREAD THEM OVER THE CORN AND RICE. Throughout the year we add eggshells to the garden. I prefer egg shell calcium over lime. In late winter (February or March) I broadcast another 50 pounds of corn over the garden. Rice too, can be sprinkled over the garden. The rice and corn are food for the birds (who defecate in your garden). Also, worms, fungi, bacteria feed on the corn and rice as it decomposes. This is winter and spring food for your living organisms that enrich your garden. Rock dust, salt water seaweeds may also be applied. That's all I do. No blood, bonemeal, lime or mushroom mulch. The latter is typically full of pesticides and herbicides.
This is a matter of timing. Tolerate weeds until they are big enough to pull or dig easily. It doesn't have to be done all at once, a little every day. GROW PLANTS IN DENSE COLONIES TO WARD OFF WEEDS....BUNCH COLONIES CLOSE TOGETHER. PREFERABLY PERENNIALS ARE IN A PERENNIAL GARDEN, ANNUALS IN ANOTHER GARDEN. I DON'T MIX THEM. Many so-called weeds are welcome in our garden and provide us nutrient dense food from February through November (dandelion, nettle, chickweed, violets, plantain, lambs quarters, sorrel, Asiatic dayflower, dock).
Fennel, calendula, garlic, green onions, French marigolds, heartease should be interspersed around your garden they ward off several insect pests including aphids. Grow annual flowers among carrots to put off carrot fly. YARROW MAY SPEED GROWTH OF MANY PLANTS WITH SECONDARY METABOLITES IT RELEASES INTO SOIL. Rotation of food crops helps prevent pests by periodically changing the location of your food crop.
There are numerous beneficial insects. The best way to attract them is to have ample plant variety and a a large garden, a large biosphere for them to thrive in. It is probably ineffective buying and releasing insects unless you have a large garden. Smaller gardens get little help from beneficial insects because they cannot provide enough range or forage.
More Organic Gardening Tips
Manure Tea: Fill an old pillow slip or panty hose with manure (horse or cow). Tie of "bag" and drop it into a garbage can or large bucket of water. Cover. Let sit and stew for about ten days. Pull out bag and water left in the container may be poured or dripped around root zones of plants. Dump manure from bag on garden or onto mulch pile.
Fava Beans and other legumes may be used to improve nitrogen content in exhausted soil when planted about 6 weeks before your first frost. Seeds of fava beans may be sowed three inches deep in rows ten inches apart. Keep moist through winter. As fava beans flower mow down the plants and till all into soil. Transplant annuals three weeks after mulching.
Minerals: Every February I put rock dust on my garden, and a good "organic" source of lime. In Mid March I broadcast about 50 lbs of cracked corn and 50 pounds of rice over the soil.
The birds like that. They mingle and munch, defecate. In time, the rice and corn putrifies, fungus grows on it. Bacteria begin to enjoy. Nematodes and earthworms, pill bugs and other earthy creatures mingle in and out of my corn and rice, escaping down into the earth, leaving contrails of waste, enriching my soil.. Their holes vacuum in Nitrogen from the air. This ether of Earth's gases becomes the starter material for nitrogenous compounds that will nourish the plants of my garden. It's a good start. But why all the trouble anyway...
Why Grow Wild Foods and Why Garden Organically: Research
RATIONALE: Wild foods and organically raised heritage garden vegetables afford us with what has become a luxury: food free of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. In addition, growing wild foods in your yard combined with sound organic gardening practices keeps mineral content high in the supporting soil. Conventional farming practices deplete minerals and trace minerals without completely replacing them. The resulting crops are inferior. Rutgers University, "Firman Baer Report", tested organically grown vegetables with off-the-shelf non-organic plant foods. The plants tested were spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and snap peas. The organically grown plants tested had significantly higher weights of nutrients, minerals and trace elements as compared to the same varieties of off-the-shelf non-organic plant foods. Total mineral matter was on average three times higher in the organically grown foods tested. Cobalt was missing entirely from non-organic snap beans, cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes. On average organic foods contained 20 times more iron; 15 times more manganese, 40 times more copper; 7 times more boron; 6 times more potassium; 5 times more magnesium; 5 times more calcium and twice as much phosphorus.
So your own organically grown garden foods provide you with superior mineral content. Wild foods and organic foods and organic gardening may go a long way toward correcting the problem of osteoporosis in our country. The minerals missing in off the shelf foods are important to bone health.
Okay, what about pesticides and herbicides. What we don't know is the cumulative toxicity of eating pesticide laden plants over a long period of time. What is the accumulative toxic effect of pesticides that have a common mechanism of toxicity. Perhaps there are synergistic toxic effects when more than one toxin is ingested. Consider in a recent study over 60 pesticides were discovered in a California carrot field (for more see "Today's Chemist at Work", The risk cup taketh over..Dec. 1997; p 35). The use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides on our food supply and as run off in our ground water will reap a savage harvest of human lives unless we do something about it. I recommend practicing Eco-Terrorism. That is, prepare your own organic garden. Move wild foods to your garden. Grow open pollinated heritage foods. Cut your food costs and add entertainment, exercise and luxury to your life...Grow and eat food of the highest quality. Your food. Just as God and Nature intended it.
(Discover some of my favorite organic gardening practices link to: for a free primer on organic gardening.)
Recent evidence suggests that Canadian federal regulations adequately control carcinogenic exposure from conventionally grown vegetables and fruit. This study suggests it is better to eat fruits and vegetables with trace amounts of pesticides than to avoid eating these fruits and vegetables (see ES&T, Feb. 1 1998, P. 81A; Cancer 1997, 80). The study done by toxicologists from the National Cancer Institute in Canada concluded that you can reduce your risk of cancer even when eating slightly toxic foods. Wow! The naturally occurring phytochemicals in plant foods actually protect us from the toxins we purposely put them. The bottom line, if you can�t find time to garden organically eat your over-the-counter fruits and vegetables whether they are poisoned or not.
MUST BE FLUFFED (for air and water absorption)
-peanut shells, buckwheat hulls, ground corn cobs, saw dust, chopped straw, coffee grounds
-high lignin content and silica content of above makes this a permanent structure.
1. Till in what you have 3 times. Ideally 3 feet deep. Can dig French trench or use spading fork.
TIP: -20% of nitrogen comes from air, good aeration from organisms and their holes in the soil.
This till above also puts air in the soil, and water holding power.
TIP: After fixing structure of soil add earthworms. Red worms will stand more heat.
Organic Amendments (A. They provide nutrients for organisms and plants B. Promote soil stability)
Best: alfalfa and manure
Good: straw, leaves, manure
Okay: green rye, peat, muck.
NOVEL AND VERY GOOD: NEWSPAPER, SHREDDED. GOOD SOURCE OF LIGNIN, INK COLOR IS SOYBEAN BASED AND SEAWEED BINDER
TIP: WHEAT STRAW PROVIDES VEGETABLE LIPIDS TO PREVENT EROSION
-do not over cultivate, this destroys earthworms and other living organisms and effects soil structure..
Organic Tea: How to Make It
TIP: manure, any kind, plus stinging nettles and/or dandelions and water...makes adequate liquid fertilizer. Feed this to soil organisms. IT'S FOOD FOR THE GUYS WHO MAKE YOUR GARDEN SOIL GREAT. USE OFTEN AND DILUTED, ADD TO SOIL OF NEEDY PLANTS ONE QUART OR LESS TO GALLON OF WATER.
-Encourage dandelions and nettles in your garden (dandelions in yard).
List of Commercial Soil Innoculates for Microorganisms
-Biodynamic compost starter
*See your gardening center for these products.
Good Soil is 1/2 minerals; 1/2 air and water; 1-5% organic material
Texture: size of crystalline mineral particles, loose not compact.
Structure: soil is crumbly does not pack.
Porosity: half of soil is open space for air, water.*
*Sand is too much porosity. Clay too little porosity Loam: considered just right.
Organic materials adds aeration to clay soils and stops water loss in sand soils and leads to a loam soil.
WEEDS: NOT SO BAD, DEEP ROOTING AND ADD AERATION BY DRILLING HOLES. WHEN THEY ARE PULLED THEY AERATE. DO WEED PULLING, NOT TILLING.
BURROWING ANIMALS HELP SOIL: GOPHERS, MOLES, VOLES AND MICE
GOOD SOIL FORMS SOIL COLLOIDS: A GLUEY SUSPENSION OF HUMUS, WATER, MINERALS AND ACIDS THAT MAKE MINERALS SOLUBLE.
USE LIME SPARINGLY OR NOT AT ALL. LIME IS HARD ON SOIL LIFE, EARTHWORMS BALANCE SOIL ph. HUMUS AND/OR EARTHWORM DROPPINGS SLANT SOIL TOWARD ALKALINITY. IONIZATION COMES NATURALLY WITH EARTHWORMS AND DROPPINGS.
Adding rock dust to soil adds full complement of minerals AND IN A COLLOIDAL FORM charged to be attracted to mucigel of roots.
ADD ROCK DUST: GRANITE DUST AND ROCK PHOSPHATE FOR FULL COMPLEMENT OF MINERALS
EGG SHELLS GOOD FOR CALCIUM BUT MUST BE CRUSHED TO FINE PARTICLES.
SEAWEED IS GREAT FOR FULL RANGE OF MINERALS, TRACE ELEMENTS IN A CHELATED FORM.
HIGH PHOSPHORUS, POTASSIUM LEAVES: VETCH, ALFALFA, RASPBERRY
GOOD SOIL CLOSE UP
THIS IS A FURIOUSLY BUSY COMMUNITY OF LIVING THINGS
1000# OF BACTERIA TO AN ACRE/FT. PROVIDES 50% OF PROTEIN CONTENT IN SOIL.
-FUNGI, ALGAE, PROTOZOANS=200# PER ACRE/FT.
-NEMATODES (ROUND WORMS) 50# PER ACRE/FT.
-EARTHWORMS 1000LBS PER ACRE/FT
-MITES, ANTS, EARTHWORMS AERATE..
EARTHWORM PRODUCES BODY WEIGHT IN CASTINGS EVERY 24H 1000LB/DAY/ACRE
EARTHWORMS INCREASE NITROGEN, HUMUS, MUCUS, MAKE AVAILABLE MORE MINERALS, ADD 5x THE NITROGEN; 2x THE CALCIUM, 2.5x MAGNESIUM; 7x PHOSPHORUS; 11x POTASSIUM.
CASTINGS FORM COLLOIDAL CHELATED MINERALS NOT LOST TO RAIN
EARTHWORMS EAT AND KILL HARMFUL MICROORGANISMS AND IMPROVE AND INCREASE BENEFICIAL ORGANISMS
EARTHWORMS CIRCULATE MINERALS AND GASES FROM SURFACE TO SUBSOIL.
CAUTION: ROTOTILL INFREQUENTLY BECAUSE KILLS WORMS
EARTHWORM FOOD: GRASS CLIPPINGS COMPOSTED (INOCULATE WITH WORMS AFTER ABOUT A WEEK) RED WORMS MORE HEAT TOLERANT; ADD COFFEE GROUNDS, CORNMEAL AND A PINCH OF LIME.
MICORRHIZAE: ARE A LIVING BRIDGE FROM THE SOIL AND ITS WEALTH TO THE ROOTS OF THE PLANT. THEY ABSORB ORGANIC AND INORGANIC NUTRIENTS AND PASS IT DIRECTLY INTO THE ROOTS. THEY GREATLY FACILITATE PHOSPHOROUS ABSORPTION. SOMETIMES CALLED INDIRECT ABSORPTION
HERBICIDES AND PESTICIDES KILL FUNGAL MICORRHIZAE
P.S. LIME ALSO KILLS MICORRIZAE BY ph IMBALANCE.
WHAT IS DIRECT ABSORPTION?
ROOTS HAIRS....ROOTLETS AND ROOT HAIRS ARE SURROUNDED BY A COLLOIDAL MUCIGEL, FULL OF BACTERIA WHICH FACILITATE PASSAGE OF ROOT THROUGH SOIL AND ABSORPTION... LIKE WATER LUBE AT OIL DRILL HEAD.
Chelation is typically a carbohydrate sphere around a mineral, making it absorbable and available to cells. Minerals move and metabolize when chelated
ENDOCYTOSIS PROVES PLANTS CAN TAKE IN WHOLE MOLECULE AND LARGER GRANULES NOT JUST IONS OF ELEMENTS...COATED PITS ON ROOTS (SOME FED BY MICORRHIZAE) INVERT OR EVERT WHOLE MOLECULES AND LARGER GRANULES FROM PLANT TO EARTH, EARTH TO PLANT.
GROWTH STIMULANTS/GROWTH RETARDANTS
COMPANION PLANT GROWTH AID IS ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM, MOST PLANTS HAVE SECONDARY CHEMICALS THAT INHIBIT GROWTH.
MOST PLANTS EMIT CHEMICALS THAT INHIBIT COMPETITION.
TIPS: DO NOT FERTILIZE TOMATOES, LOWERS BETA CAROTENE IN STUDIES OF TOMATOES, NEGATIVELY EFFECTS ABSORPTION OF BORON AND CALCIUM.
MILK ON LEAVES ACTS LIKE FERTILIZER, IT'S A GROWTH STIMULANT.
GRASS CLIPPING 6% NITROGEN, COFFEE AND TEA GROUNDS EXCELLENT
BANANA PEELS GOOD COMPOST, BONEMEAL.
ORGANIC LIVING SOIL INCREASES PHOSPHORUS AND MAGNESIUM OVER TIME
ORGANIC POTATOES 1/2 UNDESIRABLE NITRATES; 2X VITAMIN C.
ORGANICALLY GROWN FRUIT DEHYDRATES INSTEAD OF ROTTING.
LIQUID SEAWEED INCITES ROOTS TO ABSORB MORE NUTRIENTS, INCREASE GROWTH
GASES: air, nitrogen fixing organisms, and decomposition, abiotically fixed on minerals by sun energy: plants need nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide.
nitrogen: one adults human urine can provide 150 lb per acre per year.
cheap nitrogen sources: air, coffee grounds, soybean meal, hay, hair, spent hops, feathers.
MINERALS: Humus has more than 1/2 ability to hold minerals. Lignin in humus and protein of the lignin are responsible for this. Terminal moraines have great mineral content=rock dust; sea weed.
FOSSIL CLAY FOUND IN ABUNDANCE AT GRAND MERE BEACH IS GOOD SOURCE OF MINERALS AND CALCIUM.
ASHES SPRINKLED LIGHTLY PROVIDE POTASSIUM
STONES DO NOT HURT GARDEN MAY HELP ESPECIALLY GRANITE: PEBBLES DECREASE RUNOFF, REDUCE RAIN COMPACTION.
ROCK POWDERS ADD MINERALS TO SOIL, LACK OF MINERALS CAUSE DISEASED PLANTS.
CALCIUM AND COPPER SYNERGISTIC TO PREVENT FUNGAL DISEASE, POTATO SCAB...
TIP: LIQUID SEAWEED SPRAY INCITES ROOTS TO ABSORB MORE NUTRIENTS, INCREASING GROWTH, PERHAPS CAUSING MORE PITS TO FORM ON ROOTS.
SEAWEED MINERALS: COPPER, CALCIUM, POTASSIUM, PHOSPHORUS, IRON, MAGNESIUM, etc; in chelated form.
Potassium from banana peels 7%.
TRACE MINERALS: Lack of a mineral or mineral cause a host of deficiency diseases in plants.
To avoid mineral and trace mineral loses: add manure and seaweed or fish emulsion, fossil clay.
Some seasalts are complete if you can get a breakdown, rock dust valuable.
LIME: Use dolomite lime, oystershell flour, milk, or corn (calcium key ingredient, good organic soil does not need ph adjustments).
VITAMINS: Needed in very dilute quantities. B vitamins and Vitamin C most studied.
ACCELERATE GROWTH WITH VIT C AND H2O2 (50PPM EACH) EXAMPLE: 50 MG VIT. C IN ONE LITER OF WATER. SOAK SEEDS 6 HOURS IN .1 % SOLUTION OF VIT. C TO INCREASE YIELD BY 14%.
SUGAR: ONCE PER YEAR ADD 1% SUCROSE SPRAY TO ENHANCE FORMATION OF VITAMIN C IN SOIL AND PLANTS. PHOSPHORUS HELPS PLANTS FORM SUGARS WITH ADEQUATE SUGAR IN SOIL AND VITAMIN C.
TIP: SEAWEED CAN BE GRANULATED OR SHREDDED AND USED AS A SURFACE DRESSING TO PROVIDE MINERALS AND TRACE ELEMENTS.
AEROBIC: Pile needs to breathe. Start over sticks. Here and there place sticks in pile to increase aeration porosity. Grass clippings excellent maybe better than manure.
No higher than 6 feet to prevent compression, intermittent sticks help, but should be four feet high to generate heat.
TIP: Peat robs nitrogen of soil.
ANAEROBIC: MIX COMPOST THOROUGHLY, SPRINKLE WITH WATER TO MOISTEN, COVER WITH PLASTIC TARP, BURY EDGES WITH DIRT. BEST IN SUN.
SMALL AMOUNTS CAN BE PUT IN GARBAGE BAG AND CLOSED AND PUT IN SUN, ROTATE ONCE A WEEK. FULLY COMPOSTED IN 3 WEEKS.
Deer Eating Your Garden?
Predation: try to keep deer away by hanging Live Buoy soap, mesh fence.
Keep in mind deer will eat your weakest cultivars but often avoid wild foods.