Michael Astera is getting organized to find funding for the soil and plant tissue testing required by the High Brix Project. He asked participants for a write up. So, for the record:
If gardening is a college I'm in my senior year and looking forward to grad school. For the last couple years I have focused on "crops." I try and grow lots of beets, potatoes, green beans, onions, garlic, squash, basil, cukes, berries, tomatillos, tomatoes. All of these will end up frozen, pickled or jellied or cold stored. We eat a pretty bland vegetarian diet and like to spice it up with condiments: zuke relish, pickles of all description, chutneys, salsas, jams and jellies. I trade some of my canned stuff to a friend who kim chis all his vegetables. I'm running a few experiments this year: trying to grow string beans on corn, squash in hollowed out stumps and tomatoes in garbage cans.
As I enter my fourth season of gardening (I had no prior gardening experience) I feel like I'm starting to understand a few things. It all starts with the soil and it's important to build the soil/life web using biodynamic compost and compost tea and to replenish lost nutrients by amending soil with the proper ratio of minerals. I've gardened organically from the start using lasagna composting on semi-raised beds. I made lots of mistakes. Too much organic material for one thing. Too much seaweed for another. You can have too much of a good thing.
I have no formal training in gardening, no permaculture certificate or BD workshops. I have attended two one day workshops with Steve Diver who is highly regarded in organic gardening circles.
I have no degree in science but do have a significant amount of real world experience with alternative medical therapies. This experience resulted in a book published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company called Diagnosis Unknown, now out of print. My experience with conventional medicine radicalized my point of view and this has carried over into every area of my life. So when it came to gardening I was not interested in what everyone was doing. I was only interested in what the smartest, most contrarian people were doing. This led me to biodynamics, the books of Steve Solomon, Steve Diver's workshops and Michael Astera's work with soils.
As a result I make Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF), apply biodynamic preps from The Josephine Porter Institute (JPI) and use compost tea from Sustainable Texas (Steve Diver's formula). In additional, I volunteered for the High Brix Project, have tested my soil and amended them according to Michael's RX. New soil tests are on their way to Logan Labs.
It will be hard for me to trial anything this year because of the late start but in 2013 I will trial beets.