Living in Harmony with Nature and teaching others to garden the natural (organic) way, with emphasis on practices that lead to NUTRIENT DENSE produce!

Harmony Gardens

Harmony Gardens
Bey Home designed by Stitt Energy Systems, Inc. 2002

Welcome To Our Site

Our intent is simple: to provide useful information on gardening, health and sustainability issues. We will include class and meeting announcements, gardening information, and book reviews. The articles that Calvin writes for Garden Thyme, the Master Gardener Newsletter will be included. We will try to make this site easy to use and relevant.

About Me

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Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Harmony Gardens is the home of Calvin and Doris Bey. As the name implies our goal is to live in harmony with the Laws of Nature. We are concerned about the envirionment, energy efficiency, organic gardening, alternative health, and sustainability issues. We love our Stitt Energy Systems Inc. energy efficient home, which received a First Place NAHB National Award for 2003. Calvin is a retired USDA Forest Service scientist. Each year he teaches classes in Organic Gardening in February and March and again in September. Doris is a retired RN. Together they coordinate the Fayetteville, Arkansas Chapter of The Weston A. Price Foundation.

January 14, 2008

Planting Date Guide for NW Arkansas

This is a guide for gardening activities in NW Arkansas. See University of Arkansas Year-Round Home Planting Guide and www.uaex.edu for more details. Also see Jeavons' book, How to Grow More Vegetables, pages 78-79.

Averages--------------Jan--Feb--Mar--Apr--May--Jun--Jul--Aug--Sep--Oct--Nov--Dec

High Temp-degrees F--44---49---58----69----76---83---89---88---80---71---58----48
Low Temp-degrees F--22---27---37----36----55---63---68---66---59---47---37----27
Precipitation-inches----1.8--2.5---3.9---4.3----5.0--5.0--2.9--3.6---4.5--3.8---3.7---3.1

Our growing season in NW AR is about 200 days. April 10 is the mean date of last spring freeze, and Oct 30 is the mean date of first fall freeze. Within the area, the freeze dates will vary depending on elevation, slope position, and year-to-year variation. The dates below are general guidelines.

January

Get a soil test from UA, Extension Service. It is free. Plan your garden layout and order seeds.
If soil is workable, in late January you may add compost and some fertilizers. Do not work the soil if it is too wet. If a handful of squeezed soil does not break apart when dropped, the soil is too wet to work. For fruit trees, this is time for pruning and dormant oil sprays. If you have winter weeds, pull them before they go to seed.

February and March

Seeds germinate more slowly in cool soils. Do not rush to plant if the season has been cloudy and cool. Sometimes by late February, temperatures will be above 40 degrees and you can plant Irish potatoes, onions, lettuce, beets, cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, radishes, kale, mustard, turnips, and English peas. You can repeat plantings of these crops until the end of March and into April. Basically all of these crops will handle light frosts of 27-28 degrees. When the weather gets hot, these crops will fade.

April and May

April is a great month for harvesting the spring vegetables and the tricky month for starting the summer vegetables. Summer vegetables will not survive frosts. As a rule, basil, squash, melons, okra, peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn, beans, cucumbers, dill, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes need a soil temperature of 60 degrees to germinate and grow. In a very warm year, they will do okay by planting in late April. However, by waiting until May, you are assured that there will be no frosts, soil temperature will be more ideal, and the plants will get off to a better start.

June and July

Where you have harvested the spring vegetables, you may want to plant additional summer crops. Sweet potatoes, hot peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon and okra love hot weather and will do well if planted in June. You can plant other summer vegetables in July, but high temperatures will generally hurt the plants and reduce yield.

August and September

August is another transition month. It will seem very much like summer, but you need to be thinking about fall vegetables. Fall vegetables like spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, turnips, kale, and Swiss chard can be planted from mid August to mid September. As a rule you will get a better crop of these than when planted in the spring.

September is the ideal month to plant winter cover crops. Do a soil test in August, so you can fertilize before you plant the cover crop. I plant oats or Austrian winter peas on all the garden beds that are not in fall vegetables. When oats if planted in mid September, you will get a thick, tall stand of oats that will cover and protect the soil and crowd out weeds all winter.

October and November

If you have followed the general plan described here, these are the great gardening months. You will be eating some very good fall vegetables, and have relatively little other garden work to do. Fall vegetables are generally sweeter and more tasty. I also plant my garlic in October. Dig your sweet potatoes before the first frost. If you have fall/winter weeds, remove them by pulling or hoeing.

December

You can expect to pull fresh carrots throughout December. If you have strawberries, put on a light straw mulch. Remove it in February. Order seed catalogues. Depending on the soil test, I will add fertilizers before each crop is planted, including the cover crops. As a rule, I will add 30 gallons of compost per 100 square feet before each crop is planted.









Paramagnetic Rock

Paramagnetic Rock for Increased Plant Growth

By Calvin F. Bey, CFBey1936@cox.net http://harmonygardens.blogspot.com

What Is Paramagnetic Rock?
Physicists tell us that all matter has an electrical ability to be either attracted or repelled by a magnet. If matter is attracted to a magnet, it is said to be paramagnetic. If the matter is repelled, it is said to be diamagnetic. There are big differences in degree of attraction and repulsion among various materials. The paramagnetic of many elements and compounds can be found in physics handbooks. The actual paramagnetic values of rocks, metals, fertilizers, elements, and soils can be measured with a magnetic meter (called the Phil Callahan Soil Meter), available from Pike Labs (see www.pikeagri.com ).

While many materials are paramagnetic, it is the highly magnetic volcanic rock that is used as the soil additive and conditioner. To understand how it works, think of paramagnetic rock as a conduit for gathering the electro-magnetic energy of the cosmos. In the soil, this "gathering power" sets up a flow of energy from the paramagnetic material to other material that is diamagnetic (e.g. plant material and compost). The higher the soil CGS value, the higher will be the flow of energy. It is this flow of energy that is responsible for increased microbial development and the resulting plant growth. Other paramagnetic materials include charred wood, ash, air, oxygen, water, calcium, potassium, sodium, and soil. . As a rule, the paramagnetic rock is not a provider of minerals for the plants. The values of paramagnetic rock can be as high as 9,000 or more. Paramagnetic rock is sometimes referred to as lava sands. Many soils will have paramagnetic values that are less than 100, with some as low as 25. These will not be highly productive soils. The unit of measure is CGS, (centimeter/grams/second), which is gauss/million, i.e. the measurement of the magnetic flux density.

Most organic molecules, e.g. plants, are diamagnetic. You can actually observe this. Try transplanting very tiny carrot plants, with hair-like roots. As you stick the carrot root into a small hole in the soil, the carrot root actually bends as if attracted by the soil (which is exactly what is taking place).

Soils with high organic matter and high biological activity are usually higher in paramagnetic values. Paramagnetic values can also be increased by correcting the calcium/magnesium ratio (to the 7:1ideal ratio) and raising the oxygen levels in the soil. All the systems in the soil work together. The higher the organic matter in the soil, and the accompanying biological activity, the more effective will be the addition of paramagnetic rock. The following soil paramagnetic readings can serve as a guide:

0-100 = not good soil

100-300= good soil

300-700 = very good soil

700-1,200 = excellent soil

The Value of Paramagnetic Rock: The most important point about paramagnetism is that it contributes to plant growth. Dr. Phil Callahan, the guru in this discipline, says unequivocally, that paramagnetism is required for plant growth. He and others list the values of high paramagnetic soils as increased water retention, increased microbial stimulation, improved nutrient utilization, and something referred to as increased light energy. Other benefits in the soil include increased seed germination and flowering, improved insect resistance, increased frost and drought hardiness, and more earthworms in the soil. It has also been shown to assist in overcoming the effects of toxins (atrazine) in the soil.

Paramagnetic rock can also be beneficial when added to compost piles. It increases the biological activity, which in turn speeds up the rates of decomposition.

Australian agriculture consultant, Graeme Sait, (author of the book Nutrition Rules!)
now tests all his clients' soils for paramagnetic value. If low, he recommends a highly paramagnetic rock. Callahan, in his book, Paramagnetism, writes about the great healing places in the world as being highly paramagnetic. Likewise there are interesting facts connecting paramagnetism to Round Towers in Ireland, as well as at Indian mounds and the Pyramids.

Rates Of Application and Placement: Paramagnetic rock of high quality (CGS 9,000+) is available from Nitron Industries in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area. The rate of application is dependent on the CGS values of paramagnetic rock and the soil to which it is to be applied. For my garden, my goal is to get the paramagnetic value in the 300-700 (very good) range. I have a good soil, and have increased the organic matter content to about 4%, but before adding any paramagnetic rock, the paramagnetic value averaged 85. I did some testing, and by thoroughly mixing paramagnetic rock (with a CGS of 9,000) to an 8-inch depth, with rates of ¼ pound, ½ pound, and 1 pound per square foot, I could raise the CGS values of my garden soil to 250, 475, and 565 respectively. A cup of paramagnetic rock weighs about ½ pound. I have tested many garden soils in the area, and almost all are below 100, with some as low as 25. I have now applied 1 pound per square foot over my entire garden. This may seem like a very high rate, but remember that the magnetic, energy-collecting value remains in place for centuries.

Preliminary testing of paramagnetic rock in my garden showed increased growth of newly set out strawberry plants, and slightly higher brix reading(0.5 ) for tomatoes. Be aware that the effect will likely increase with time. The likely first action in the soil is to increase the microbial activity, which in turn will likely release soil minerals. Paramagnetic rock is not a substitute for minerals, and will likely not fully correct soils that are seriously deficient or out of balance in minerals. However, as the soil improves, the paramagnetic rock will enhance plant growth and fruit production.

For gardens and other areas that can be worked, mix the paramagnetic rock into the top 6-8 inches of soil. The soil does not need to be roto-tilled. You can do the mixing with a garden fork.

For areas where plants are already established, like lawns and trees, simple spread it on the surface. Over time, the soil microbes and earthworms will move it down into the soil where it is most beneficial. By adding compost or mulch, you can increase the earthworm activity and speed up the incorporation process.

References:

Callahan, Phillip S. 1995. Paramagnetism --Rediscovering Nature's Secret Force of Growth. 128 pages. See www.acresusa.com.

Sait, Graeme. 2003. Nutrition Rules! 308 pages. See www.acresusa.com

Callahan, Phillip S. and others. Paramagnetism Rountable - State of the Art. Tape from 2001 Acres U.S.A. Conference. See www.acresusa.com .

January 13, 2008

Spring into Action -- Get a Soil Test


I often say that the basics of organic gardening are very simple and yet very complex. The basics are simple in the sense of following three interrelated ideas. (1) Increase soil biological activity, water holding capacity, and soil mineral levels by adding compost, using cover crops and mulches, and not using pesticides. (2) Keep the soil well aerated, using raised beds and minimum tillage to develop improved soil structure, which means better tilth or soil workability. (3) Remineralize the soil to a level that is adequate to grow nutrient dense plants, using minimally processed and organic materials. These basic ideas become complex when we address the questions of what kind and how much fertilizer to add.

Every soil is different. This is especially true of garden soils where a lot of different fertilizers have been added. Without a soil (or plant tissue) test, it's impossible to give good advice on how much fertilizer to add. It becomes just a guess, and I prefer to leave the gambling to those going to the casinos. It's like asking your medical Doctor for specific advice based on average health conditions for those in the State. It makes no sense.

In addition to the soil test, before giving advice, I like to know some past history of production and problems. I don't try to "fix" every soil problem in one year. If you are providing conditions to create the biologically healthy soil, some of the other soil conditions (like nutrient levels and pH) will change on their own. Microbes are the plant's digestive system, and the workhorses for creating healthy and productive soils.

There is another element of fertilization refinement when we address the specific crop being grown. You will need more phosphorus for leafy crops than for seed crops. For small gardens, I don't try to fine tune at this level. It seems best to just do a single recommendation for all the vegetables in the garden. I do treat the more acid loving blueberries and strawberries separately. For vegetables, I strive for a soil pH of 6. 4. Blueberries do much better if you can get the pH down to 5.5 or lower.

The Arkansas Soil Test Report is a good place to start for assessing your soils. The tests are free and you will get an analysis for ten different elements, plus soil pH, cation exchange capacity, and base exchange for Ca, Mg, K, and Na. I encourage you to get an understanding of what this all means. Because the Arkansas analyses are very general, I have also been sending soils to another independent laboratory, where they have a lot of experience with making fertilizer recommendations for growing nutrient dense produce. Because the different labs use different nutrient extraction methods, direct comparison between laboratories are not possible. If you are interested in additional information on this subject, please contact me.

Recommended Reading: Teaming with Microbes – A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, 2006. Available from www.AcresUSA.com. In a clear, straightforward language, the authors describe the activities of the soil organisms, and tell us how to promote healthy soils through the use of compost, mulches, and compost teas. The information can you discover how to create rich, nurturing, living soil – without resorting to harmful synthetic chemicals.

Garden 2007

Garden 2007
Heirloom "Country Gentleman" Corn