Veganic Gardening Wisdom from Butterflies Katz

One of Gentle World’s veganic growing experts shares her personal advice for growing a successful vegan-organic garden.

Your compost is the most important thing for veganic gardening. You save your vegetables and fruit peels in a pile, add to compost pile and cover with hay, and flip it. It has to aerate a certain amount of time depending on the environment, region, how hot it is – it could be three months, six months, a year – and then you add that to your garden.

Another important additive in organic gardening is nitrogen, which is one of the necessary nutrients, and the reason most people use blood and bone and animal manures. Vegans use nitrogen-fixing cover crops instead, like legumes, peas, broad beans (fava beans), clover, mustard, all sorts of nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Any legumes are good. When I’m growing I always try to grow a row of peas or broad beans here and there because it’s not only food, it’s literally adding the nitrogen to your soil.

If you’re just starting out a garden it could need lime, which pulls up the nutrients from way deep in the soil and brings them to the surface. Or rock potash for the potassium, which is another essential nutrient. But I try to avoid things that are mined from the earth as well. Because first of all we don’t want to harm animals or be violent to animals or use products derived from them, but we also think of the earth and if we don’t have to, we prefer not to use products that are mined. So for the potash, I’ve been using the wood ash from our wood stove, which is full of potassium.

Last year we had a flood that dropped off a lot of silt and leaves and that was my free fertilizer from nature! So if you can get away with using things like that, that’s preferred. And if you are just starting out a plot and it really needs a little boost then you might have to go to the rock potash, rock phosphorus, and dolomite, which add calcium to the soil. You can also add seaweed for trace minerals.

We have used dolomite, rock phosphorus, and lime. But I’ve been doing this garden here for four or five years now and haven’t added any of those things. I like to feed it a lot of plants that died, composting them back into the earth when they are done. So that adds N-P-K without getting it from rock. Hay gives some nutrients and it’s a mulch so that you can suppress the weeds at the same time while feeding the plants.

All the gardeners here have a different style of veganic gardening. And my style of gardening – is to grow a lot of pollinator flowers. The fence of my garden is made of flowers. And I have a very free, open garden where I don’t keep anybody out and that means animals in the environment as well. It’s their world too, so I try not to entice them too much, by growing what they don’t like. I have this big, thick wall of zinnia flowers that they don’t seem to like. And they grow tall so that’s my garden fence each year.

I grow all these pollinator flowers that bring the bees and I have thousands of bees in my garden. All kinds of bees – bumble bees, honey bees… Bees are very important to people and to the planet and they are in trouble right now which could be big trouble to humans. My way of combating that is to grow all these pollinator plants that bring the bees to pollinate our food, and they are so happy in the flowers there that they never sting me. It’s amazing, there are bees everywhere and I never get stung. They literally look like they are in ecstasy – they sleep in the zinnias.

And it also brings the butterflies. I grow milkweed which is the food for the Monarch butterfly which is in the top ten ‘going extinct’ list, which is very upsetting. I love them, and I help them to hatch out from the chrysalis. The wasps get them when they are in the drip-dry stage before they can fly, so I bring them into my caravan where it’s safe. Then I let them take their first flight from my hand.



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