28 January 2008

Harmony Gardens Online!

Calvin Bey, inspired gardener at Harmony Gardens, is Northwest Arkansas' vegetable and soil guru. I'm delighted to find out today that he has started a blog of his own at http://harmonygardens.blogspot.com/ ( Harmony Garden Blog )

I've taken two classes with Calvin and learned more about soils and chemistry and compost than I ever imagined there was to know. A class with Calvin is a wandering romp through brix readings, peak oil, mineral ratios and more. (Side note: if math and chemistry had been taught in the context of gardening, I'm sure I would have payed more attention in high school!) He will tease you with more information than a brain can handle per class, but also give you all the information you need to do the research for your own garden.

Favorite things I learned from Calvin:

1. The Soil is Everything. It all starts and ends here -- well, literally, too! But with regards to gardening, if you get the soil right, the rest is easy: pest control, productivity, disease control. When students ask Calvin what he does about particular bugs, he says, quite honestly, that he just doesn't have a lot of trouble with bugs. And you can look at his garden and see it's true. The trick is all about the soil. (This is true for human health too: if the nutrient isn't in the soil, it's not going to be in the food. Calvin has collected some impressive and convincing documentation on that connection.)

2. Experiment! Calvin, being a scientist by trade, does all kind of experiments with his garden. He tries different soil amendments, techniques, etc, then measures the outcome. And he keeps copious records. Best of all for the students, he also documents with pictures.  

3. Learn deeply and dig deeply. Calvin follows the methods of John Jeavons in How to Grow More Vegetables and hey, it really works. Calvin is an inspiration to dig deeply, not just into your garden soil, but into what you love, which in his case, is the garden!

So keep an eye on Calvin's website if you are growing vegetables in NWA and also if you have a particular interest in the nutrient value of the vegetables you eat.

Go Calvin!

27 January 2008

Morning Light, Frost and Neighbor Cow

This was the silvery view outside my studio door this morning.