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Quote of the Day: Rudolph Steiner

February 17th, 2013

“So long as one feeds on foods from unhealthy soil, the spirit will lack the stamina to free itself from the prison of the body.”

Rudolph Steiner from What Is Biodynamics?: A Way to Heal and Revitalize the Earth

Over the past month, I’ve been reading about ways to improve the soil. I want to make sure the soil I’m growing my food in is as healthy as it can be, because that in turn will provide the healthiest vegetables for my plate. I’m trying to come up with the best plant to remineralize this soil with minimal inputs and maximum benefits.
I’ll write more in the future about what I decide to so, most likely it will involve lots of compost, animal manure, green manure, beneficial microbial additions and rock/mineral powders. I’m debating on whether or not I want or need to get a soil test completed or if I just want to add beneficial amendments and let the soil balance itself out over the coming years. I really want to focus on watching the plants as they grow to learn to read them.

What’s your favorite way to grow the soil in your garden?

16 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Rudolph Steiner”
  1. Joan on February 17, 2013 at 8:13 am

    We add lots of manure, as much compost as we can generate (much of our compost material goes through the chickens first though, so more manure and less compost!), and ashes from our woodstove. We mulch with leaves and grass, and sometimes straw when we can find some produced locally. We occasionally use alfalfa meal and soymeal to boost the nitrogen. Also we grow some green manure but should do more.

    In the beginning we would supplement with lime a bit, but now just use ashes. I try very hard to avoid rock powders because they are mined from the earth and then shipped long distances. I don’t want to destroy some other patch of earth to make my own patch better. I’m sure that my garden would be better if I used these, but I’ll take a slight decrease in production over digging up and transporting minerals. And luckily for me we have enough land that I can just expand my garden to make up for the loss in productivity – if I didn’t have the land to expand I would almost certainly use rock powders to improve my output.

    We have done soil tests a few times (they are inexpensive here in Maine through the Cooperative Extension Service, and give me an idea what we should be working on) but don’t follow their recommendations as well as we should. We also use fish emulsion and compost to fertilize plants during the growing season. I see other gardens that are a bit more productive than mine, but I am satisfied with mine.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Misti on February 17, 2013 at 10:51 am

      The mention of mining has been on my mind too. We bought some soil for our new flower beds from a reputable soil company nearby. In discussing the levels of quality we went one step down from the top for the flower bed and were initially thinking of going with the highest step for our veggies. What was in the highest step was green sand. I asked what it was (old ocean sediments) and where it was from (this one was from east Texas) but when I got home and read about it was when I started having qualms about it. It is mined. I’m kind of like you, if we’re trying to do the best we can with the Earth how good it is to mine a finite resource in order to be a better organic gardener? And the hypocrite in me at the same time bought limestone rock mined from central Texas to line edges of the flower beds. I guess I can at least say that is reusable and the green sand not so much.

      Other than that we’ll be using compost for the most part! I’d like to wean myself off of fish emulsion too though.

      We’ll see! our neighbor has chickens so I’m sure we will end up composting chicken manure too.

      Reply to Misti's comment

  2. KimH on February 17, 2013 at 8:41 am

    It depends upon where Im at. At the community garden, I cant do much of anything other than amend the soil with rock powders and add compost in huge amounts if I have it. I’ve also done some seeding of winter cover crops but its really a hit & miss there.. they till it before winter and I doubt that most of it germinates. I figure you gotta do what you can. This next year, I plan to mulch heavily with straw so that should help build soil so long as its not disturbed much. It’ll be tilled in at the end of the year which will also help.

    Here at home, I use a lot of compost and chopped up leaves. We got a chipper shredder a few years ago that does great with leaves and small 1″ diameter branches. We bagged up quite a many and I put a lot on my beds here at my house to build up the soil. I keep a layer of chopped up leaves on the top of the soil as nature does it.. Nature is a wonderful thing and I figure Mother Earth surely does it right. ;)

    Have you seen the videos of Back To Eden Gardening? There are videos all over You Tube about it too.
    His method is the Ruth Stout No Till method.. it takes a little time to get going but I know it works and works well over time..
    Too many people just into it & dont realize the cover will bind up the nitrogen and dont compensate so have a less than ideal situation, but for the long haul, I think its a pretty wise way to go.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  3. Marina C on February 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

    We add our our own compost, organic chicken manure since we don’t have chickens, and every few years I get aload of organic aged cow manure from the dairy and mix it into our compost.
    And light fish emulsion, only in the pots and raised beds… because our dogs love it!
    My soil test: earth worms! We have tons and I don’t worry.
    Is that overly optimistic?

    Reply to Marina C's comment

  4. daisy on February 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’m a newbie, so I’m waiting to see what YOU do! ;0)

    Reply to daisy's comment

  5. kristin @ going country on February 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

    All soil amending courtesy of sheep, chickens, kitchen-scrap and yard waste compost, and ashes from the woodstove. The ashes get dumped randomly throughout the winter, then tilled in. The sheep stuff from the barn is used as a mulch. The chicken stuff goes in the compost, which is put in when things are planted.

    It’s all very random and unscientific, but I figure it’s all helping in some way. Can’t hurt, anyway. Unless you mulch with sheep straw that’s too ammonia-heavy from urine, and then you’ll burn your tomato plants.

    Not that I would do anything like that. Ahem.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  6. Maybelline on February 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Amending my soil with compost, peat moss, sand, and chicken leavin’s.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  7. anno on February 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Given that our cooperative extension service described our soil as, “like somebody poured battery acid on a sand dune,” we probably need more than what we’re doing: wood ash from the fireplace, aged horse manure from our neighbors, straw mixed with duck manure, coffee grounds; surprisingly few food scraps, as I’m never sure what will actually be “safe” for the compost pile, or how to sort them; pine needles for the blueberries.

    Reply to anno's comment

  8. Adriana on February 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Great quote! I look forward to reading about what you decide to do. I’m interested in learning more about remineralization. We can get horse and cow manure for free from neighbors. We have really sandy soil… every year we try to add more organic matter. Every year I say that I will get the sol tested, but never get around to it. Do you think they are worth it?

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  9. Songbirdtiff on February 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I’m glad I got a soil test this year, because I have a few major deficiencies (and a few excesses) that wouldn’t have been balanced out for 10, 20 years with just compost and regular amendments. Now I know what natural resources to add and what to keep out.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  10. Songbirdtiff on February 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I should add that not all states offer good soil tests, but we have excellent tests in Arkansas for free.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  11. Julia on February 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Can you share what you’re reading on soil maintenance? I know good soil is the key to good gardening, but I haven’t been able to find any readable guides written for gardeners (as opposed to farmers). The only books I’ve found have been technical textbooks. I would love to get a good recommendation!

    Reply to Julia's comment

    • Susy on February 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      I have read a ton of book, many of them are technical books for farmers.

      I’d recommend starting with Teaming with Microbes. I like what this book recommends, except I don’t like that they recommend not using manures. I think animal manures from healthy animals provides great nutrients for your soil. It was one of the best additions we made for soil improvement for our poor soil in Ohio.

      Also read Start with the Soil.

      Also Gaia’s Garden is more of a whole garden concept of using plants and mulches to improve the soil naturally.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Julia on February 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm

        Thanks, Susy! Those are exactly what I was looking for.

        to Julia's comment

  12. EL on February 23, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    You should do a soil test before adding mineral amendments. After all, why amend if you don’t need it? However compost and organic matter is always great and you don’t need to test for that.

    I’m basically composting and also I have have been raking my leaves over areas where I either planted or intend to plant. The leaves acted as an insulator for the winter and enabled me to harvest leeks in the middle of winter. I have sandy soil so organic matter is badly needed in order to help to hold water.

    Reply to EL's comment

    • Susy on February 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

      I do have the benefit of being able to talk to the people who started this garden and have tended it for the past 40 years. They have never added any minerals, mostly chicken and horse manure. I’m certain adding a balanced mineral amendment like Azomite wouldn’t be wasted as the soil have never been fed any kind of trace minerals.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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