Gardening with Mr. Jeavons

| 12/11/2018 12:00:00 AM

Renee headshotI've always been a dirt aficionado. I grew up in Iowa where the dirt is like champagne. What didn't wash away to the gulf of Mexico in years past is still lush and fertile. I grew up enjoying this champagne and it's been a difficult adjustment to deal with soils that are not like that. I've written about this many times. This is not news.

Healthy soil is what makes healthy plants. Nobody disagrees with this. However, there is some disagreement on how to make soil healthy. Some say this. Others say that. Most agree that the laborious process of amending and composting is the best way but not all farmers and gardeners have the stamina or patience to work this way. Too many still resort to unnatural fertilizer. It works great in the short run. But is it great in the long run?

I've tried these short cuts. I've tried fertilizer. I've also tried compost but only (as it turns out) in an incomplete way. I've bought soil and made raised beds. I've tried straw bale gardening. I've tried doing absolutely nothing and let nature take its course. All of these ways work to a degree. What is best?

The soil here in the Central Valley of California is great in some areas and not so great in others. Unfortunately in my area it is not so great. It is not the worst I've encountered but it is far from the wonderful soil I grew up with in Iowa. I've got sandy clay loam with emphasis on clay.

When I recently heard about a lecture sponsored by the Fresno master gardeners group and given by a local truck farmer on soil improvement I signed up right away. During the lecture Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farms mentioned a book by John Jeavons called "How to Grow More Vegetables". I said to myself, "I have to get that book".  So I did.


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