Coach – organic and biodynamic garden
Author : My Food Garden
Coach for an organic and biodynamic garden. Our blog shares some insights from working with over 200 coach clients. Food gardeners are of all experience levels. They work on properties ranging from balconies, backyards, acreage, hobby farms, off grid properties, commercial urban farms and school community gardens. All seek a level of self sufficiency in growing their own food.
The coach clients come from around Australia, with Samford and Brisbane area clients face-to-face. Further away, our coach service is done virtual via using video over Facebook Messenger. The largest proportion of coach clients were at the stage of seeking to recommence food gardening after stopping due to lack of success or change of life circumstances.
The biggest breakthrough to achieve with our coach clients is getting them to realise that a consistently healthy and productive food garden with high plant vitality is possible with consistent effort. Most importantly, attitude to their work in the garden and all life that surrounds it, must be imbued with love as the foundation of success.
Coach – Key insights
Location of garden – This requires core factors for success such as: appropriate sunlight through the year and especially during peak growing times, good drainage and water access, ease of access to your home and lack of tree roots. Being objective in this process through our coach service is very helpful. Getting as many core factors as possible makes garden management so much easier. Weaving in beauty and biodiversity into design promotes plant vitality.
Soil – This is the foundation of plant vitality. Establishing a consistent rhythm of activity to activate and balance soil life is essential and yet many gardeners tend to be re-active rather than pro-active with this critical issue. Using organic methods potentised with biodynamic practices is the most efficient. Most gardeners tend to run down soil carbon too quickly so consistent methods of adding soil carbon are essential.
Staging of project – Blending level of experience, time available, space to grow food and resources needed all become part of a staging decision in the project. Starting small to build skill levels creates a platform to expand. Many gardeners try to take on too much to begin with, especially with larger land areas. The garden must be designed for ease of access. Time needed reduces in relation to output with skill improvement.
Plant and care selection – Planting out of season is a common issue for food gardeners. This issue makes it very difficult to achieve success. Using a location sensitive planting calendar, such as the Plant wizard at Gleanr, is a big help as well as talking to local successful food gardeners. Appropriately enlivening plants to get through their sensitive early stages is also very helpful, as well as planting stock and appropriate watering. Companion planting, intercropping, staged planting for continuous supply and saving seeds all become part of plant vitality.
Pest and disease management – This is the most common reason for food gardeners to stop. The answer to this challenge is not garden coverings and toxic sprays, it is in building the vitality of your plants so they do not become a target for insects and animals as well as diseases. Low plant vitality speeds up nature’s recycling process in your garden.
Well being – Recognising the potential healing aspect of the garden is a very common reason for gardeners to start. In my experience, becoming conscious of this and nurturing the feeling becomes “fire in the belly” to keep you going, despite the challenges.
A successful food garden, leading to a high level of self sufficiency in food is never about one thing. It is a combination of factors and the points above create a platform for plant vitality. I use organic methods and make these more potent for life processes in soil and plants with biodynamic methods. The wisdom from these experiences of over 40 years in food growing provide a platform for our coach service.
Our coach service guides food gardeners through the key insights above. Our coach package over one year is ideal as it embeds rhythms of activity to blend with the seasons and is personalised to the gardeners experience and goals. One off coaching sessions are also available. We also run educational workshops in biodynamic gardening and these are often attended by our coaching clients. More information on our coach service here.
Peter Kearney – My Food Garden