C- chemical signals
O- observe
M- mycorrhizal network.
P- pollinator/pest?
O- observe some more
S- system- trust the system
T-timing

The best fertilizer is the gardeners’ shadow. I hope this simple guide will help you to invite all of nature into your space and become part of the regeneration of our planet.

1.) Plants communicate using chemical signals. There is a whole world of information swirling about in the garden. A plant will call in pollinators, and will also call in help when it’s being eaten by a predator. If you have a healthy, diverse ecosystem it makes sense to allow a plant time to correct its own problem. It may be calling in the beneficial insect that will solve the problem. Sometimes a plant doesn’t make it, but it may have called in the solution that will help your entire garden.

2.) There is no substitute for spending time with plants and learning about your own unique piece of paradise. Observe everything- is the green of the leaves different today from yesterday? Does it look dry, sad, hungry, overgrown? Try to connect to it. Approach it as if it were a friend.

3.) I encourage you to use no til methods and learn about the soil. The mycorrhizal network is your superhighway, transmitting info and resources. Cultivate it, learn about it and allow it to do the work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycorrhizal_network

4.) The insect world is in grave danger from our overuse of pesticides. A recent study in Germany showed a 75% reduction in insect populations over the past 10 years. That should alarm you. Here’s the thing: just because something is eating something that you want to eat does not make it a pest or bad. A healthy garden will be teeming with life and some of your plants will get eaten. Plant some more. A garden without insects is far more alarming and unhealthy than one that has a temporary overgrowth of “pests”.

5.) You can’t overdue observation. You’ll learn so much, and also become a much happier, healthier person. Let your plants know that you love them as they are, and that you are looking to be part of their world. Get to know their cycles and needs and they will give you all the information to be a recipient of their generous harvest gifts.

6.) Here’s the thing- wild areas are abundant, fertile places with life sprouting and reaching and harmonizing. The system works. I like the analogy of the Oompah Loompa’s from the movie Willy Wonka. If you inherited the perfectly run chocolate factory, would you fire the Oompah Loompas? Of course not- they’re doing all the work! Below the soil you have the mycorrhizal network, bacteria and insects of the soil web, and above you have the chemicals signals, insects, birds and mammals doing their part. Those are your Oompah Loompas and they do all the work. Feed the system- the system will feed you.

7.) You can’t grow tomatoes in August in South Florida. You can’t grow corn in December in Nebraska. Learn what works when and plant that. Don’t fight the timing of nature and remember that there is no substitute for time in the garden.

I’m one of the laziest gardeners you’ll ever meet. I feed my soil, trim and harvest and mostly just wander around the garden in awe of mother nature and talking to the plants. It really is that simple. If it came from the earth it goes back to the earth. I chop and drop when I trim and my food scraps go to the chickens. I have worms in the soil providing worm castings. I feed the soil, and the soil feeds the system.

The hardest part is the beginning, when you are learning, losing plants and it seems like your soil will never provide the types of yields you want. But then, just like that magical moment when your child suddenly becomes an adult, your struggles are over and you’re the grateful steward of an abundant ecosystem that feeds your belly and your soul. You can do this!