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 environment, 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. Calvin and Doris have put their energy efficient house up for sale (by owner). See first post for description, pictures, and house design.

July 16, 2011

Waterlogged Soils and Soil-less Growing Mix

Waterlogged Soils. After a very dry early spring we hit the jackpot in late April with 12-16 inches of rain in a week. That has caused many problems. The most noticeable effects were the erosion and soil compaction. On even a slight slope, that pounding rain may have taken away an inch or more of top soil. You may have also noticed some plants turning yellow and some of them even wilting. The Reason -- those waterlogged soils contain almost no air and the plants can not take up nutrients and grow.

If you had serious soil issues, plan now for making some changes. Wet soil problems are usually fixable. It may be that drainage ditches are needed, or maybe you even have to change the garden location.

The value of raised beds was never more self evident than with these recent rains. Except for one bed of newly emerging carrots, all my raised beds were covered with spring vegetable crops and/or mulched with straw. They suffered very little with the rain. A couple days after the rains stopped, I “fixed” the carrot bed by adding a little compost and covering the area with finely chopped, old straw. Production for the spring crops looks great.

Soil-Less Growing Mix. One gardening book, and other “experts” advocate growing gardens in a soil-less mix composed of several different kinds of organic material. I am opposed to this practice. It is not surprising that I have had several calls this year from soil-less mix
users who describe past results as “poor” to “miserable.”

These soil-less mixes are generally not sustainable and far from what I call good organic gardening practices. Produce from those gardens are invariably poor in nutrient content. As a rule, if the plants can even get
started in such a mix, they end up having lush vegetation, with little to no fruit production, and a preponderance of insect issues. It is no wonder. As a rule compost does not have the correct ratios of minerals needed by plants for good fruit production. I have heard gardeners say, “you can’t use too much compost.” That is not true. I caution gardeners routinely, to use compost wisely, i.e. sparingly.

There is no simple solution for those garden beds filled with a soil-less mix. Several gardeners I know are digging out their expensive soil-less mix and starting over with some top soil at about ten percent the cost. A small amount of the mix may be useful as a soil amendment. It will depend on the nutrients in the mix, but I would start with no more than 10 parts soil to 1 part soil-less mix for any vegetable garden. See photo below for results comparing a soil mix(left )from a soil-less mix(right).

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Garden 2007

Garden 2007
Heirloom "Country Gentleman" Corn