Sunday, 11 May 2014

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My aim is to grow plants in my garden as nature intended.  Grown in a manner embracing processes refined by millions of years of evolution.

This natural approach results in strong and healthy plants living in balance with their local ecosystem of which the living soil is a vital component.

The pages of this website examine relationships between plants, animals, insects and microbes and their place in the soil foodweb.  Many of these complex relationships have only recently been observed as a result of technical advances in microscopy.

Without these vital relationships, organic gardening and farming would not be possible.  Indeed natural ecosystems could not function without them.  They are fundamentally important and include:-
  • The natural balance between plant pests and their predators.
  • The activities of beneficial microbes resulting in the breakdown of organic waste and parent rock into plant nutrients which can be easily assimilated by the plant's roots.
  • The activities of bacteria and fungi which create aggregates in soil, improving structure and the passage of water and air to the roots of plants.  These aggregates improve water and nutrient holding capacity and drainage.  They increase the soil's friability and facilitate improved root growth and penetration of the soil.
  • The activities of microbes in the photosphere and rhizosphere of plants, where nitrogen is fixed from the air in forms used to nourish plants.  Plants encourage this activity by producing exudates which attract and feed beneficial microbes.
  • The activities of pollinating insects and birds, on which flowering plants depend to fertilise their flowers and produce fruit and seeds.  These plants produce pollen and nectar in return to feed the pollinators.
  • The activities of predatory insects and birds, which are often pollinators too, protect the plants by consuming insect pests and small veg consuming animals such as snails and even rodents.
  • The activities of grazing animals, who in return for food above ground (the leaves of grasses and other plants) return manures which contain beneficial microorganisms and nutrients to the soil, feeding the plants in the process.  When an animal dies in nature, an army of scavengers, including very small animals like beetles, insect larvea, and microorganisms, gradually reduce the corpse to nutrients and returned it to the soil.
Organic farmers and gardeners do their best to emulate this environment, and enhance it sometimes by making and using homemade compost to simulate the natural return of nutrients to the soil, and by encouraging beneficial creatures such as those described in this blog to take up residence on their land or at least frequently visit it.