The Art of feeding a garden is in attaining balance. This brings us full circle to our blog on Thrips and the Goldilocks Garden.
Not too much, not too little… just right.
Too much of one mineral, locks up others. This is where natural soil improvers work so well because the plants and microbes work together and it’s not technical.
The Goldilocks Garden has a balance of light and air, humus in the soil retaining nutrients, and mulch protecting your microbes. This garden needs less watering and is a pleasure to be in.
Using natural products keeps it simple and this short blog shows you how.
How does it work?
As gardeners our job is to feed the soil. The microbes feed the plants. Firstly, let’s start by giving
microbes a home in the form of humus and carbon. Humus retains moisture and holds onto
minerals. Carbon gives them a home.
Soil needs a lid and mulch is critical in providing shelter to teeming soil life in the precious top
centimetres which includes arthropods, microscopic algae, protozoa, moulds, bacteria, fungi and
worms, to name a few. A veritable ‘African savanna’ of plants, grazers, and predators in
Minerals and natural soil improvers such as compost, worm castings, seaweed and char, gives
microbes what they need to thrive. The magic happens as worms appear, mycelium establishes,
and the underground eco system becomes your workforce under that vital mulch. Oh, did I
By day plants photosynthesise sunlight, creating sugars which are pumped into their roots at
night to feed microbes and fungi living in the rhizosphere – the soil zone around the roots. Those
sugars carry hormonal instructions to make Vit B, Vit K, nitrogen, pass up potassium, whatever
the plant wants. In the morning the plant draws up the sugars and nutrients requested, and the
cycle starts over, provided those microbes have what they need.
Did you know bacteria have the highest percentage of nitrogen per body weight than any living
creature? Ranging from 15 to 30% nitrogen, bacteria are the No. 1 favourite food of worms; and
why bacteria tippy toe about trying to hide from them. Talk about predator and prey. No wonder
worm castings are so effective.
In healthy soil, mycelium crumbles tight clay soils and binds sandy soils. Mycelium defends plants
from pathogens and reaches beyond the plant roots to share nutrients in return for ‘hanging on
the vine’. White mycelium secrets acids that break down minerals, making them bio available to
plants. What a wondrous world right beneath our feet.
When to feed
- Feed spring and autumn, or ongoing in small quantities (especially vegetables).
- Monthly applications of Fairydust.
- What to feed
- We can feed gardens all sorts of things, getting quite scientific in the process. Or it can
- be kept simple. The main aim is to build soil humus, provide nutrients… and mulch.
Keeping it simple
Life Force Gold, Seamungus, and mulch are the general soil improvers used by Gardening Girls on
site. We achieve excellent results in combination with regular applications of Fairydust tonic and
now, Activated Char Condensate.
For planting and plant rescue, our go-to is Landtasia. A locally produced organic fermented
compost bursting with worms and microbes. Worm castings are excellent. Supply is an issue we
hope to solve.
Well composted manure from pasture fed ruminants is excellent. Gardening Girls stopped using
commercial manures several years ago; the source is feed-lots. Use poultry manure on gross
Another excellent manure is worm castings. Highly available nutrients, trace minerals, beneficial
bacteria and a good source of chelated nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Worm castings are
increasingly used in regenerative farming practice.
We do have other tricks up our sleeve, such as Aloe Vera tonic, BAM (Beneficial Anerobic
Microbes), Mycorrhizal fungi and organic Potassium-Silicate. We’re adding information to the
website as we go.
How to feed
- Sprinkling food around the trunk won’t do much. The fibrous roots that absorb water
- and nutrients generally start radiating out from a distance twice the diameter of the
- stem or trunk, extending beyond the canopy or leaf cover.
- Apply food to the entire root zone and ruffle about with a rake or mini pick. Try not to
- disturb that beautiful white mycelium running through the mulch, it’s precious.
- Activate the food by watering in. This enables the microbes living on the fibrous roots to
- start digesting moistened food.
- Hand watering is preferable, as irrigation systems often don’t cover all areas.
- For other forms of mulch and their uses, see separate fact sheet on mulching.
Why gardeners are happy
Both plants and soil microbes give off hormones that produce serotonin when they are healthy
and happy. Fancy that, plants and microbes giving back to their carers.
Watering and resilience
Deep water the garden every now and then (twice over summer, once in winter). Ensure
moisture penetrates to 85 mm (3 inches) over entire rootzones, properly hydrating plants and
enabling nutrient uptake. This builds resilience to better cope with stresses of temperature
extremes, pathogens and insect attack.
Overall, in conjunction with arborist chips as mulch, the garden will need less water, less often
over the course of a year.
For more information on products and garden care, check out facts sheets on the website.