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

My photo
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.

January 20, 2015

Organic Gardening and More
Soil Testing -- All Gardening is Local

Calvin F. Bey         

Question:   I am ready to plant my potatoes, tomatoes, etc.  What fertilizers should I use?  

Answer:  That standard question applies to all gardens, and I can really only answer the question if I have a soil test report.  Backyard vegetable gardens are extremely variable, so without soil test results, I would be guessing.  All gardening is local.  Guessing at what to apply may work or it may not.   If you want to see your garden producing nutrient-dense vegetables, you will need more precise calculations.   

With your AR Soil Analysis Report in hand, I can give you recommendations with much more assurance of success.  Yet, because uptake of nutrients is so complex, even the best advice is not always going to be spot-on.    

Question:  So just what are the factors that go into making fertilizer recommendations? 

Answer:  First, know what nutrients already exist in the soil  The AR soil test will provide that information.  I like the Mehlich 3 soil test that AR uses.  It shows pounds of nutrient per acre for 11 different nutrients.   That is very helpful.

A second factor is the Estimated Base Saturation for Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium. This is a ratio of the major cations in the soil, and it important to to see those percentages in a certain ratio i.e. roughly 68:12:4:2.

The third factor is the soil Cation Exchange Capacity.  This is a measure of how well the soil holds on to minerals.  A low number suggests a sandy soil, and a high number suggests a soil with clay and/or a soil with lots of organic matter.   Soils with low CECs, will need smaller does of fertilizers, but more frequent applications.  Soils with high CECs can use higher amounts of certain fertilizers.  

Fourth, it is good to see a Calcium to Magnesium ratio of about 7:1.  It should be higher in clay-like soils and lower in sandy soils.  Calcium loosens soils and Magnesium causes soil to compact. 

Fifth, I will look at the pH, but mostly as a monitor of how well the first four factors are satisfied.  A deeper understanding of these and other concepts can lead to production of nutrient-dense vegetables.  I provide  the details in my classes and now have an app that helps in making calulations.  

Garden 2007

Garden 2007
Heirloom "Country Gentleman" Corn