the Soil

This place where we live in Corapeake was, apparently, once part of a monoculture farm. We thought when we moved here that gardening would be easy, it’s the country and that means good gardening, right? Wrong. The soil was depleted, dry, gray, horrible stuff. We spent the winter adding manure and compost and planted that spring. The soil sure did look better–blacker, denser– but every pest in the county came to our little organic garden and they spread pestilence and disease and ate holes in everything. We were frustrated and disgusted.

We did, however, endeavor to persevere.
Through the years we have amended the soil, hand picked a million and fifteen insects, waved at the guy in the crop duster (I couldn’t hear his name when he hollered but he was almost close enough that I could read his ID bracelet), foliar fed with compost tea made of various substances from rabbit poo to old tea bags. After a while I started mixing our too-icky-to-eat yogurt with water and pouring that onto the soil. ‘You want bacteria? You get bacteria?’ We brought home every real lady bug and praying mantis we could find. And you know what? They have colonized! Here, in the middle of hell, they have colonized and our yard is crawling with mantis’ (manti?)
This year, for the first time, we had a bumper crop of tomatoes and most of them were not diseased. All of our efforts at soil building in combination with the purchase of disease-resistant varieties made the difference. This place is still not ready for heirlooms, we tried several this year and they didn’t make it, but regardless, we have a freezer full of homemade, homegrown, organic tomato sauce, bell peppers, green tomato salsa, eggplant and hot peppers. Yes, we are deadly with the nightshades! and the herbs are beautiful and lush.
We stayed here long enough to learn this: In the midst of thousands of acres of cotton, soy and corn; In the midst of herbicide and pesticide drift, it is possible to grow a healthy soil and a healthy bug world and healthy garden plants.

About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
This entry was posted in activism, environment, food, gardening-organic biodynamic natural, health and well-being, opinion. Bookmark the permalink.

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