When practicing Natural Farming you literally need to step back from the trees and see the forest. Modern science is based on reductionist theory. Things are taken apart, dissected, parts are tinkered with to figure out how they work. This method has served mankind well. But now it’s time to to put the pieces back together.
Natural Farming is the science of putting the pieces back together into a holistic ecology. Our goal is to mimic nature. Some feel it is not a scientific approach to ignore species and specific nutrients. Think of it this way.
You’re driving a car in a busy city, waiting to make a turn across traffic. When do you turn? The consequences are dire. If you make a mistake an incoming car can crash into you and possibly kill you. Yet people make these decisions all over the world every day and only a tiny fraction end in crashes. So drivers are pretty good at this.
How do they make to decision? Do they use math? Do they calculate the velosity of the oncoming car, the distance away, the traction of the tires on each car, the effects of roadway conditions, acceleration rates? All the complicated math can be calculated after an accident. But the driver making the turn does no math, only makes an educated guess even though lives depend on it. Drivers learn from experience to estimate speed and distance and acceleration rates.
And nature is even more complicated, quantimly complicated. So what do we do? How do we make educated decisions without knowing all the particulars? How do we choose which plants to use?
I see so many Natural Farming practitioners bogged down in ‘what is this’ and ‘what species is that’ and ‘how does this work’?
Step back from the tree and look at the forest. The answers you seek are not in the massively complicated details, but are in the patterns of the natural world.
TOXIC VS TONIC
When considering which plants to use, consider medicinal vs tonic qualities. A medicinal plant would be one used to treat acute conditions, stopping a cold virus for example. Most medicines work by being toxic in some way. The best work on the pest or disease, not the host being healed. But still they work by toxic actions.
Tonics on the other hand are used regularly, even daily, and over extended periods of time. Tonics do not stop a cold but taking the tonic increases health & vitality, even longevity, preventing the cold. They do not work by a toxic action but by fortifying and harmonizing. Master Cho’s Oriental Herbal Nutrient OHN, for example, is a fermented extraction formula of the herbs he thinks are the best, most powerful tonics. He advocates taking some every day, giving to plants and animals every day, feeding to microbes as well, not for any specific action, but because the strengthen, harmonize, tonify.
If the plant you want to use has toxic actions it’s best not to feed plants on your weekly feeding routine. But a medical plant Fermented Plant Juice FPJ would be great to make and use when it’s helpful properties are needed. For an every week FPJ plant you want one that works like a tonic.
When choosing plants to make into inputs let the pattern tell you what to use. Fast growing plants are used to encourage green growth. Fruit are used to set and ripen fruit. But there are endless patterns to use.
For example I had a miracle berry bushes that was tight and slow growing. The nodes were too close causing it to choke and suffer from fungal problems. I wanted the bush to open up, lengthen the node spacing, give it a chance to grow. My solution? I looked around for a fast growing, leggy plant with long spaces between nodes. I ended up choosing a vine. I don’t remember which one and it doesn’t matter. After giving the miracle berry some vine FPJ and the bush opened up and started growing. I saw the pattern “leggy” and put it where I wanted a change, “compacted”. My compacted then grew longer nodes, became a healthy bush, and started soon after giving berries. You don’t get these kind of results looking at plant nutrition. It was actually a hormone that helped in this case. I knew gibberellic acid would work. But instead of spending hours researching sources of gibberellic acid and ways to extract and use it, I just looked around for the pattern I needed, leggy. The pattern approach is easy and highly effective.
The pattern approach can be used for specific crops as well. Tomato ferments are great to grow tomatoes. I suggest making separate inputs for each stage of life as hormones, enzymes, co-factors etc. all will change over the life cycle of the plant. Use young plant thinnings to make an FPJ for young tomatoes. Make another from tomato plants just starting to bloom to use to induce flower growth. To get the fruit to set use a green tomato Fermented Fruit Juice FFJ from green tomatoes. Switch to ripe tomato FFJ to help fruit ripening. The pattern here is “same-same”.
If you want to be a Natural Farmer, effective & efficient, look at patterns not details.
1. Science does not yet understand microbial ecology. It’s new science and the tendency is to take it apart, not put together a holistic system. The systems approach defies the scientific method.
2. It is impossible to learn everything in one human lifetime.
3. Effectiveness is the measure of truth. Look for patterns. Test them. See the truth. Be effective & efficient. That is being a Natural Farmer, one working with nature instead of against her.