How your food can grow from air

I gave a talk at my family farm’s plant sale two weeks ago, that was supposed to center around PASSIVE Gardening. I thought it would be rather tacky to give a condensed version of the book, so decided to give a side glance of the method, by explaining the little known art of pulling nutrients from air. This is actually the basis of the method in my mind; but I often get some queer looks when I explain it that way. I’d love to know your take on it.

“I’d like to offer something rather uncommon in the gardening world…..”

View the talk here

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8 thoughts on “How your food can grow from air”

  1. Good for you! It all makes much more sense to me when looked at this way. Has it inspired you to make any notable changes in your gardening practice?

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  2. Yes, in the sense that with sandy soil water and nutrient retention is a bigger issue than I realised. I had thought I had clay, and therefore the soil would have more of both than it clearly can without more organic matter.

    I’m trying to work on a closed loop, partly because I don’t have the money to buy in large amounts of compost etc, partly because of the environmental cost of buying in. At the same time, I’m doubly pleased that I’ve been building hugel beds over the last 18 months, as this will hopefully not only aid retention in the shortish term but by being able to grow more there will be more organic matter to add fertility and reduce evaporation.

    The course seemed to favour use of compost as mulch rather than natural decomposition in situ (I’ll have to read again to clarify this point) but I think in the forest garden section of my garden, the latter is fine because the soil is also protected by large amounts of living mulch in the form of strawberry plants and such like.

    On the note, I am more inclined to leave weeds (or what might typically be thought of as weeds) to grow, unless the ground is needed for something else. I realise at the same time that this might be considered anti-social by other members of my community, so I may still exercise some controls in this area.

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  3. I entirely agree with your line of logic. The science of ground covers especially I think offers a lot of potential for its development. There are some very nice “weeds” that do the job of maintaining soil and building organic matter reserves, so I hope you can figure out some arrangements others find acceptable -or even attractive. Thanks for taking the time to fill me in on all this!

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  4. Well, I do leave some dandelions – they have pretty yellow flowers, after all šŸ˜‰.

    Anyway, no doubt in time we will have an even better understanding of soil ecology. That is what I was doing on my course, ultimately: citizen research into what is happening across Europe and what can be done.

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  5. Lovely post. I like this way of looking at plant growth from another perspective. Wind is still my biggest issue, followed by stopping any nutrients being washed back out by the rain.

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  6. I’m sure in your case an ‘exposed’ site is an entirely different situation than in most of the world. You might try an artifical windbreak to establish your plant windbreak. I have seen many reports about government initiatives establishing planting on sand dunes on seashores and even in parts of the desert with these. Or have you already tried this? Thanks for the compliment on the post. I appreciate it.

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  7. We only get 90mph winds or so most winters! We’ve planted plenty of trees, but with shallow soil they do take a bit of establishment. We do have a bit of wind break netting around my dog resistant garden, but it tends to get a bit tatty after a couple of years. I think pallets on their edges may be better, but you’d need a lot, and staking etc. Also the shelter belt needs to be tough, with good roots or will be no use once the protection is removed. We did consider individual shelters, but generally just went for vole guards for tougher trees. The plantings are starting to do some good now – the proof will be when we start getting more problems with midges!

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