To Grow in Nature Requires Observing Nature

In order to grow food using natural processes, it requires us to shake dogmatically held views and letting things progress as they will. Through the power of observation we derive our strategies and our philosophies.

Natural Energy Forces Are Quite Strong

If you have ever stood out in the sun in the middle of summer in the southeast for any length of time you begin to gain an appreciation of just how strong the natural energy forces are. We are not even talking about the occasional chaotic storm (hurricanes or tornadoes), just a regular clear and sunny day. Through observing, studying, and more observing of how energies flow we begin to get a deeper appreciation of what is actually at work.

frontyard
Spending time in this can provide considerable insight. What is surviving? What isn’t?

Comfort Has Changed Our Ability to See

The conditions that plants must endure are completely lost by the majority of humans. Modern humans live in bubbles of shelter that remove uncomfortable conditions, conditioning us to ignore what makes that possible. This ignorance is important because until we take these things into account, we won’t take real world conditions seriously enough to realize that natural energy forces can be excessive. Nature operates in this environment 24/7 and has adapted to these conditions since the beginning of time. Seeing where and how plants germinate makes this clear.

Everything Coevolved With Something.

The complex inner-workings of nature should make us consider that everything coevolved together. Apple trees co-evolved with forest edges and forest growth as you can see the germination of apples occur along shelter edges. Observation makes this clear.

Roadsides Are Our Teachers

When we actually adopt the view that growing using nature is possible given that nature is all around us, we can actually begin to see and understand where living things should be placed.

When you go out for a drive, make sure to pay attention to the most unkempt of roadsides. Every inch where the natural environment is left to its own devices will give clues about how nature continues to thrive and grow. It is difficult to refrain from giving reasons about “why” until much observation has been done. This is what permaculture educator Geoff Lawton must mean when he talks about looking as through you are through the eyes of a child.

What you are seeing at this moment is the progression of many past events culminating into what is before you.

Trust Your Eyes and Experience Over Books

Nature takes shapes and forms that will give you ideas of how things actually work, not just written about in books. Patterns begin to emerge that you never considered before, and even if you have come across concepts such as “forest layers” the actual reality of them will start to put everything into context.

When some people in “industry” describe that “weeds” compete with trees, it is clear they are no longer looking at things from the eyes of nature, but their own frail artificial systems. Nature is far, far more robust than that.

Time Between Disturbances Is Actually Visible

One area that I am constantly comparing is the length of time (period) of disturbances of areas and watching what comes up. What is actually dominating (growing well) in those situations? Depending on the time between mowings/clearings an area can really take different shapes. It seems that the “invasive” plants that people focus on so much, are commonly found in the most frequently disturbed sites, while areas where disturbance happens over longer stretches, the more “native” plants seem to grow.

Let’s Use Our Senses a Bit More

Even though I have been trained in the sciences and think with an engineering mind, I do not let these things cloud my intuitions. We clearly have, and have had in the past, the ability to see and observe what is going on nature and use it to our advantages, long before complex abstract concepts came around. The advantage of using intuitions, especially in a try and fail scenario, is we won’t be trapped into a distinct box that our concepts will put us in.

Microgreens are NOT sustainable or regenerative. Just wasteful.

As part of self improvement, I realize that I bottle some things up more than I should. Maybe what it is, is I feel that I need to peruse around a topic and building my understanding long enough of the actual context to REALLY say something. Well here it goes: Microgreens are NOT sustainable or regenerative. They are just wasteful.

This isn’t even a hard statement to make, just a basic analysis.

If I were to ask you “what do you think of first when you think of microgreens?” Would it be a healthy sustainable food source? How about a green food? It is hard to tell because the businesses actually engaged in producing and pushing this product always uses the word sustainable. Seniors Join Local Sustainable Movement by Operating Hydroponic Rooftop Garden for Senior Living Community  This link has every amount of fluff one can imagine, note the company also sells microgreens among the many other energy to output poor products.

In reality we should be thinking more about it like an oil refinery, since everything about its production uses petroleum and other long term resources that are mined in order to produce the most temporary and frail garnishes in existence. I’m not railing against necessarily the production, just the bait and switch of calling it sustainable, green, or regenerative.

There is no debate on this. I personally will not support any movement of organized people who support the statement that microgreens are either sustainable or helping the environment. The microgreens business is sold to eager buyers (those who are thinking of making and running a business to customers, usually in microgreens called crushing it or hustling), that this business is sustainable and “green”. That’s hustling alright.

Microgreens. This is what
Plastic greens, this is what “green” waste looks like.

I have even seen people touting it as a regenerative act. Now that crosses the line. Nothing about microgreens, especially from anybody I have ever heard producing it, is regenerative. It neither improves earth’s mineral cycling, or captures the sun, in fact that has been removed from the equation. The production of microgreens requires significant seed resource input, artificial lighting for the entire process, disposable growing mediums, and plastic trays.

Quite simply, it is an actual case of 1984 double-speak to call this regenerative. Please stop.

While I cannot speak for all reasoning for those who are selling this idea, but they must be either unaware of the amount used or the rarity of the resources needed to produce this product or maybe it is that they are ignoring it just to make a buck? I think for most of it is a bit of both.

When you read and hear people advertise that you can reap in thousands upon thousands of dollars producing and selling microgreens, its obvious why one would want to look into it. (Isn’t that always also the classic ploy by unsustainable ventures? Just pointing it out.) Not doubting the money making ability, just the use of the word sustainable, green or regenerative.

If you buy or support the microgreens industry (the hustle), the future may be looking back at you. Its not that growing microgreens is inherently bad, its just the way it actually is grown, is. The next tree I plant, I’ll be thinking about you.

Solutions

We can’t have finger pointing without a solution. A similar product with less wastes would be sprouts for example. Still heavy seed usage but can be grown in the same or with less waste materials easily and still give good mineral impact.

Even better, the real solution, is to get engaged with your food system by learning about and using the natural processes and systems for food production for yourself and others. We should ALL be growing our own green veggies. I have been posting videos regularly of what we do here at our home on this exact subject.

not microgreens
Getting greens like this, is too easy not to.

My Dead Simple Solution

Here is my dead simple solution. Make many rows in the ground with your finger starting in September and October. Locate these rows 6 inches apart, 1/4 to a 1/2 inch deep (doesn’t matter so don’t worry). Sprinkle plenty of kale, arugala, mustards, turnips, or radish seed into the rows. Cover it up. Water about once a week until winter rains begin, then stop doing it all together.

You’re done.

 

Grow Fruit Trees Like Weeds

Let’s face it, our fruit trees are weak. The ones we choose, how we cultivate them, and our entire relationship with them encourages poor results. Why do you think spraying is a “must” now? We willed that into existence.

Our short term focus drives us rather than our long term one which is odd considering the long term benefits are actually the reason for trees themselves. Instead of planting trees that will fruit for 100+ years, we are planting ones that might last 10 or 15 years on dwarf rootstocks (laughingly called disease resistant) followed by creating a “disease” that prevents the replanting of those trees (called replant “disease”). This trading of long term stability for short term gain, is quite clearly a recipe for complete disaster.

As a potential patch to this problem of non-evolution, perhaps we should start taking the place of weeds with our fruit trees. Nature gets better and stronger by being put to the test, so naturally we should do the same with our trees.

Since “weeds” germinate when there is bare soil present, why don’t we go ahead and throw some tree seeds in there while we are at it. Not because we are interested in the fruit (that comes later), but because something was going to grow there anyways, might as well be one that we think we like. Cut those fruit tree weeds in winter if their looks are unpleasant and in a few years time, perhaps you will have a best tasting local fruit variety.

You can only win nature games with nature tactics.

Just One Hour a Day to Grow

One hour a day may seem like a big commitment but it is really not. Habit formation is something that is pretty well documented and isn’t a surprise to anybody. Start doing something every day for 45-60 days and it will no longer feel painful, it will feel comfortable.

Within 2 months you will have momentum on your side. I am now seeing that may be all we need to grow healthy food for our families.

What One Hour a Day To Grow Did For Me

  • I now have more food planted.
  • More food germinated.
  • More food growing.
  • And more food harvested, AND documented.

There Are No Secrets

It wasn’t from better seed, more knowledge, growing in A vs B container, it was just basic time focused.

What if we apply that to other growing efforts? That is just vegetables which require more work for what they return. But what about planting trees? Or rather harvesting from?

It isn’t the one hour that you give, but the experience that you gain. If you will challenge yourself, I recommend doing it during the first daylight hours. It will be hard to separate you from the real world to go into the manufactured one.