Monday, February 11, 2013

Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka

Sowing Seeds in the Desert

In a nutshell- To reseed the desserts, Mr. Fukuoka urged, we must consider and treat nature as one thing: A complete system. Troubleshooting problems with soil, water, and plants as separate entities is resulting in the widespread growth of deserts. Adequate amounts of water will not solve the problems of crop growth and drought. As in the rain forests, rain comes from green plant life, especially trees, more than it does from clouds. Sowing Seeds in the Desert proposes a proven working plan for giving nature the tools to amend the soil and support life once more without the heavy manual labor and capital investment we have come to think of when we think of desert reclamation. I can see it working, and I think it’s genius.

This is important- Did you know that when Laura Ingalls Wilder was crossing the prairie with her family the grass was so high people wandered in and never made it out? If you’ve lived on a prairie or a range, that is hard to imagine. Those grasses are almost extinct, and the rich soil of the high plains is getting poorer and blowing away.

Did you ever wonder why the lion is called the King of the Jungle? Many African savannas and deserts were heavily forested in pretty recent memory. The condition of our soil is changing because of human practices, and with it the vegetation and amount of rain.

We are in the habit of thinking that irrigation and chemical boosts can substitute for rich soil, but it isn’t true.

If you doubt me, think about how carefully you have measured soil elements into raised beds and how difficult it was to grow anything truly productive, especially if you live in an area with a lot of radiant heat. Think of how much water it took, even with organic fertilizers. You need a rich system of plant and insect life and a few years to make great soil and grow a really bang-up garden.

I believe that if we change the way we think about and treat our soil systems, especially in farming and ranching, we can bring the rain back.

A hard pill to swallow- The book’s toughest and most personal challenge to my thinking is about lawn culture. Isn’t the goal of growing anything in my yard to have a wide expanse of green grass? Wouldn’t it be weird and possibly annoy my neighbors if I choose to plant something else that is better for the soil? It’s more socially acceptable to have struggling grass than something entirely different. Even as I say it, I know that social norms are problematic and rarely good guides. I am challenging myself to come up with a drop-dead attractive way to grow soil-healthy “manure crops.” Gulp. Wish me luck!

Pure fun- Guerilla Gardening!  Whether you are a home gardener wondering how to make your green greener, or an environmentalist concerned about climate change, Sowing Seeds in the Desert is practical philosophy well worth your while, and Daniel and I are enjoying many animated discussions on this, my second trip through the book.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...