In 2020, our committee aims to focus on positive solutions that we can all try, to better look after ourselves and our planet. We have invited guest presenters to write a short article in this spirit, and we will publish one each month. We hope you find them inspiring. This month our guest writer is Graeme Sait, CEO and Co-Founder of NutriTech Solutions.
Nutrition Gardening – Reclaiming Responsibility for Planetary and Family Health
We are in unprecedented times, where we face the dual challenge of pandemic protection while also striving to avert a climate change disaster. Thankfully, there is a positive synergy between the two. The recessionary impact of the pandemic is exactly what was required to provide the breathing space needed to avoid crossing the global warming tipping point. The atmosphere and water are rapidly cleansing in our absence.
The recession has also driven home the necessity for personal food security and, as a result, home food production has never been so popular. If we can understand that our home garden can also offer a helping hand to a planet in need, then we start to see the broader importance of growing your own food. Let’s look at how this works.
Humus Saves the World
The planet health link relates to carbon. We cannot make new carbon. There are the same number of carbon molecules in the world today that were present at the time it was formed. These carbon molecules move between the soil, carbon-based life forms, and the atmosphere, where they are stored as CO2. This is called the carbon cycle. The soil is by far the biggest carbon storehouse, but we have not treated this precious commodity with the respect it deserves. Soil mismanagement has seen the loss of two thirds of our organic matter (humus) to the atmosphere, where it thickens the blanket, traps the heat and changes our world. Soil carbon losses vastly eclipse coal and oil as a major CO2 contributor.
When we change the way we garden and farm, we can step into the carbon cycle and directly sequester what would otherwise have ended up in that blanket.
Learning to build humus in your garden is your single most powerful strategy to contribute to climate change reversal. If you sit with a calculator and factor in a 1% humus increase in your 200 m2, and translate that to its global significance, you will understand that it eclipses solar panels, food miles consideration, and reducing your personal energy consumption (not that these things are not important).
Your Garden as Your Ultimate Wellness Tool
The good news is that, while you are helping to save the planet in your garden, you are also creating humus, the most important component in producing wonderful, spray-free food with forgotten flavours and greater medicinal qualities. It is the ultimate win/win outcome.
Did you know that many large-scale conventional vegetable growers do not eat the food they produce? They have a plot out the back for producing their family’s food. Your vegetable garden is your secret to DIY protective nutrition.
In these stressful times, the garden can also bring solace. In fact, it was recently revealed that the smell of a healthy soil actually triggers the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone. Anxiety and depression can often be linked to a lack of serotonin.
The home garden also allows the luxury of immediate consumption, and the health benefits associated with genuinely “fresh” food. There is a substantial loss of nutrition linked to food transport and storage. A snow pea, for example, loses 50% of its vitamin C content within 12 hours of harvest. The food you have grown yourself can be consumed immediately after harvest to maximise family health benefits.
Below are some strategies that can help you produce healthy, disease-free fresh food, while reducing global warming. There are three components to super-productive, stress-free Nutrition Gardening. These include management of minerals, microbes and humus.
The Magic of Minerals
The starting point is always calcium, the trucker of all minerals. It is so common to see regular liming overlooked in the home garden. You should aim to lime your soil sufficiently to create the perfect soil pH of 6.4. This can be simply checked with a pH strip. At pH 6.4, all minerals are most available, and that helps ensure that the food is nutrient-dense and your crops are resilient. All minerals are required to produce fine-flavoured, problem-free food, so the best strategy is to seek out a composted fertiliser that contains a balanced formula of all minerals (including more obscure trace minerals like cobalt and molybdenum). I formulated Life Force® Gold™ for this purpose.
The Mystery of Microbes
Beneficial soil microbes are invisible (500,000 bacteria on a pinhead), but their handiwork is very obvious. A crumbly soil, which readily absorbs moisture and oxygen, is the result of thriving soil-life. These organisms protect your plants, while delivering minerals and building humus. Your role is to support and stimulate this army beneath your feet. Your nurturing strategies should include the introduction of new conscripts in the form of compost tea and worm juice. This support should also include a regular supply of their favourite foods. These include humates (humic and fulvic acid), liquid fish fertiliser and seaweed. The Life Force® home garden range includes Life Force® Organic SeaChange™ (kelp, fish and fulvic acid) and Life Force® Instant Humus™ (soluble humic acid granules).
Humus is the storehouse of these all-important minerals and microbes. It also stores moisture, and when you strive to build humus in your garden you are sequestering atmospheric carbon to counter climate change. Here are the four key humus-building strategies:
1) Minimise digging – every time you open up a soil, you oxidise precious soil carbon.
2) Mulch, mulch, mulch – soil-life gradually converts mulch into humus, and in the interval, it serves as a protective blanket nurturing your topsoil. Local councils provide mulch for free, or you can pay $20 per cubic metre for a super fine, compost-like mix that has been double ground.
3) Use compost – compost contains a stable carbon component, but more importantly, it introduces massive microbial diversity to fast-track the capacity of your soil to build humus. Make your own, or try the NTS super-compost called Life Force® Carbon™.
4) Plant cover crops – never leave your soil bare. Cover crops, like lupins, feed the soil-life with sugar exudates while they grow, and their organic matter is then digested and humified after they die off. Turning in your cover crop might be the only time you can justify disturbing your soil. Alternatively, you might choose to use a whipper snipper to cut it down, providing a nice mulch cover.
If you visit nutritiongardening.com.au, there are a host of tips about how best to produce wonderful food at home.
Happy Nutrition Gardening,
Graeme Sait is CEO and Co-Founder of NutriTech Solutions, based in Yandina. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker, specialising in soil, plant, animal and human health and wellness. He lectures and consults with farmers, consultants, medicos, governments and key decision makers worldwide.
If you are interested in subscribing to his regular newsletter Nutrition Matters, contact NutriTech Solutions—visit www.nutri-tech.com.au.