Contents

A Perspective for the Future / viii How to Grow Made Simple / xiv A General Preface / xvii An Historical Introduction / xxii History and Philosophy / 2

Bed Preparation / 6

Initial Preparation Process Ongoing Preparation Process Complete Texturizing Process U-Bar Process

Sustainability / 22

The Loss of Soil Nutrients and Humus Initially Adding Nutrients and Humus to the Soil Losses = Gains? 100% Sustainability Impossible The Need for Up to "99°%" Sustainability

Compost / 34

A "Natural" System

Functions

The Process

Soil and Other Materials in the Compost Pile Building the Pile Key Organic Functions Watering the Pile Locating the Pile

Fertilization / 49

Soil Testing

Organic Soil Amendments What a Home Soil Test Will Not Tell You

Seed Propagation / 62

Seed Planting Flats

Ecology Action's Pursuit of

Sustainability Current Goals of Understanding and

Achieving "99%" Sustainability How to Better Sustain Your Soil's Fertility

The 60/30/10 Crop Area Model Sustainability Worldwide

Size and Timing Compost Curing Maturation and Application Rates Composting Methods Compared Materials to Use Minimally or Not at All Functions of Compost in the Soil Building a Compost Pile Step by Step pH

Shaping the Bed

Adding Fertilizers and Compost

More-Sustainable Fertilization

Flat Soil

Some Causes of Poor Germination

Pricking Out

Transplanting

Spotting

Planting by the Phases of the Moon

Watering

Shade Netting

Mini-Greenhouses

Key Water Factors

Weeding

Planting in Season

Plant-Growing Temperature Ranges

Soil Temperatures for Seed Germination

Making the Garden Plan / 121

The Garden Year Simple Mini-Garden

Companion Planting / 142

Health Nutrition Beneficial Herbs Crop Rotation Multi-Crop Planting

MASTER CHARTS

(Use Column H for Spacings) Vegetables and Garden Crops Calorie, Grain, Protein Source, and

Vegetable Oil Crops Compost, Carbon, Organic Matter,

Fodder, and Cover Crops Energy, Fiber, Paper, and Other

Crops Tree and Cane Crops Flower Spacing Chart Herb Spacing Chart

Four-Year Plans for One-Person

Mini-Garden Four-Person Family Food Garden

Physical Complementarity Weed, Insect, and Animal Relationships Companionate Vegetable Chart Companionate Herb Chart

A Balanced Natural Backyard

Ecosystem and Its Insect Life / 156

Natural Predators Insect Pests and Plant Controls

Other Initiatives

Bibliography / 165

Alan Chadwick

Energy

Herbs

Pruning

Animals

Farming

High-Altitude Food Raising

Reference

Appropriate Technologies

Fertilizer

History

Roots

Arid Regions/Dryland Farming

Fiber Crops

Homesteading

Seed Catalogs

Bamboo

Flowers

Housing

Seed Saving

Biodynamic

Food and Nutrition

Human Waste

Seeds/Diversity

Biointensive

(see also Solar Cooking)

Hydroponics

Seeds/GMOs

(see also grow biointensive)

Food Preservation and Storage

Income

Seeds/Green Revolution

Calorie/Diet Crops

Fruits, Berries, and Nuts

Insect Life and Balance/

Seeds/Plant Propagation

Children's Books

Fukuoka Culture

Plant Health

Soil

Climate

Gardening (see also

Intensive Gardening

Solar Cooking

Communities

Container Gardening)

Language and Travel

Supply Catalogs

Companion Planting

Global Perspective

Learning/Teaching

Sustainable Agriculture

Compost/Carbon/Fodder/Organic

Gourds

"Living Farm" Museums

Terracing

Matter/Cover Crops

Grains

Mushrooms

Testing

Composting

Grasses

Native Americans

Tools

Container Gardening

Greenhouse Culture

Out-of-Print Book Sources

Traditional Agriculture

Cookbooks

grow biointensive

Permaculture

Trees

Crafts

(see also Biointensive)

Philosophy

Tropics

Development

Health

Plant Names

Vegetables

Education (see Learning/Teaching)

Hedges

Plant Nutrient Indicators

Water

Weeds

Who Is Ecology Action? / 219

Index / 235

What are the dimensions of this challenge? Current agricultural practices reportedly destroy approximately 6 pounds of soil for each pound of food produced.1 United States croplands are losing topsoil about 18 times faster than the soil formation rate. This is not sustainable. In fact, worldwide only about 42 to 84 years' worth of topsoil remains.2

Why is this happening? Conventional agricultural practices often deplete the soil 18 to 80 times more rapidly than nature builds soil. This happens when the humus (cured organic matter) in the soil is used up and not replaced, when cropping patterns are used that tend to deplete the soil's structure, and when minerals are removed from the soil more rapidly than they are replaced. Even organic farming probably depletes the soil 17 to 70 times faster than nature builds it by importing organic matter and minerals from other soils, which thereby become increasingly depleted. The planetary result is a net reduction in overall soil quality.

Ecology Action is in its 31st year of rediscovering the original principles behind the highly effective, resource-conserving, and sustainable 4,000-year-old Chinese Biointensive way of farming. One to two millennia ago, cultures in Latin America, Europe, and other parts of Asia developed similar approaches. Ecology Action developed the grow biointensive growing method, which is patterned after nature's own intensive biological plantings. Based on over 10,000 years of field trials, the features of grow biointensive include:

  • Deep soil preparation, which develops good soil structure. Once this structure is established, it may be maintained for several years with 2-inch-deep surface cultivation (until compaction once again necessitates deep soil preparation).
  • The use of compost (humus) for soil fertility and nutrients.
  • Close plant spacing, as in nature. (How surprised we would be to find natural meadows, forests, and fields growing in rows, with the area between the rows resembling long strips of desert.)
  • Synergistic planting of crop combinations so plants that are grown together enhance each other.
  • Carbon-efficient crops—planting approximately 60% of the growing area in dual-purpose seed and grain crops for the production of large amounts of carbonaceous material for compost and significant amounts of dietary calories.
  • Calorie-efficient crops—planting approximately 30% of the growing area in special root crops, such as potatoes, burdock, garlic, and parsnips, which produce a large amount of calories for the diet per unit of area.
  1. Developed from U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.
  2. Developed from P. Buringh, "Availability of Agricultural Land for Crop and Livestock Production," in D. Pimentel and C. W. Hall (eds.), Food and Natural Resources (San Diego: Academic Press, 1989), pp. 69-83, as noted in "Natural Resources and an Optimum Human Population," David Pimentel, et al., Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. 15, No. 5, May 1994; and with statistics from the United Nations.
Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

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