Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Dynamic Garden, Herbally Speaking in the Herb Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2015 Issue!

The Spring 2015 Issue on Newsstands Now!
Really I don't think I have been this excited about an issue of Herb Quarterly magazine for a long time.   In this particular issue (Spring 2015) there is an article called The Dynamic Garden by a Canadian writer, Sheryl Normandeau who talks about "dynamic accumulators", herbal ones and how they replenish the soils nutrients by using them as green manures, mulches and composts.  This is not a brand new concept, and I had always heard about comfrey as a super herb for the compost pile.  I just hadn't heard about the other herbs.

First of all you want to take a soil test.  Ideally that would have been in the fall so all of the amendments could have had time to be incorporated for spring planting.  Spring is also an acceptable time as well.   There are lots of DIY tests but the one I would recommend is through your local extension office.  You pay a reasonable fee and get the kit and take several samples in the garden you want to test and then send that bag to the designated university testing laboratory.  You get your results in the mail or maybe even online in about two weeks.

My Favorite Organic Gardening Book!
My favorite book in discussing organic gardening principles is by Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser called Grow Organic.  A very down to earth (pun intended) read and by my first horticulture teacher, Jessica Walliser and her radio partner and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, Doug Oster!  Horticulture was one of my favorite classes when I got my certificate at Phipps.  I remember Jessica would come into class, stand in front and would grab her notes so tightly.  She would then start talking and would not quit for 2-1/2 hours!  She is a dynamo!  She gave the best soil lecture ever.  Here are some of the points you need to remember.

All dirt is made up of sand, silt and clay.  You can't change the soil texture, but you can change soil structure.  Structure is how those particles, sand, silt and clay stick together.  How they stick together determines how water, air and nutrients get around in the soil.  You want to use organic matter whenever possible, because only one to six percent of a soil sample is organic matter.  Balance is important in your soil and don't use the same organic matter each year, mix it up.

Remember nitrogen is for green leaves, phosphorus makes roots and fruits and potassium improves vigor and hardiness.  Some of these dynamic herbal accumulators are thugs in the garden so what better use for them than to reincorporate them back into your soil!

Now back to the article.  I'm only going to talk about a few accumulators and hopefully you will go buy the issue and read about the rest of them.  Garden accumulators either have taproots or fibrous roots that reach down or out to grab nutrients.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a happy problem in our garden as it invites pollinators in (especially bees), but its large taproot is difficult to transplant in other locations in the garden.   Its taproot works to break up compacted soils and then stores potassium.  If it is happy, it reseeds readily.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) My gardens are being overrun with this dynamic accumulator.  Their fibrous roots reach out in the upper soil layers and store phosphorus.  I don't always get around to harvest as much as I should during the year.  Maybe this will be incentive for me to help my soil.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) I have started to grow my mints in containers.  This is one that is still in my garden and I will leave it now that I know it accumulates potassium and magnesium.  It is also a great companion plant when planted amongst the cabbages and other members of the cabbage family may deter the white cabbage moth.

Even Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) and Winter Savory (Satureja montana) are dynamic accumulators of potassium.

There are several more herbs discussed in the article like the savories that are not spreaders.  You can use these accumulators both fresh and dried.  Once the gardening season is over, you can chop up the accumulators, leaves, stems and roots and add them back into the soil.  You may also plant the spreading accumulators near the compost bin so you have easy access to putting them right into the compost pile.  You can also use them as you go in the growing season, especially if it is a perennial accumulator, such as lemon balm or peppermint.  Don't take more than one-third of the plant.  Just as you wouldn't take more than that for harvesting during the growing season.

So thanks Sheryl Normandeau for writing such an interesting article.  Well, I hope I have peaked your interest to go and get the current issue of Herb Quarterly.  Hopefully, you can find it on the newsstands.  Not many of those left!  My local grocery store usually carries it.  Barnes & Noble also carries it.  Thanks for reminding me, Linda!

We are having springtime weather.  It really lifts the spirits.  Getting the seed orders in.  Hope you had a great day.  The Herbal Husband took me out for an early valentine's dinner!  Talk to you later.   


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

An interesting post dear LVL. My soil down here in s.e. FL is 'sand'. Definitely have to add things to make it better for growing plants.

Glad you are seeing some hints of spring. It won't be too long now.

Happy Valentine's Day week ~ FlowerLady

Linda Goudelock said...

I can usually find this magazine in Barnes and Nobles! one of my favorites

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi FL, We are having balmy weather this weekend. I know it will not be long. Happy valentine's to you too. xo

Thanks Linda. I completely forgot about Barnes & Noble! xo

Sheryl @ Flowery Prose said...

I just came across your lovely blog last week - thank you very much for your kind comments about my article in Herb Quarterly! A very interesting subject.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Sheryl, Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. I really hope I sold some copies of The Herb Quarterly because I thought it was really an interesting article on a subject that all gardeners must think about i.e., soil conditioning and if you can use herbs that are invasive and abundant to add nutrients to your soil so much the better. I loved it! Hope you will drop by again. xo