Calvin Bey on Starting a Spring Garden (podcast)

Posted on Jan 23, 2010 | Comments Off on Calvin Bey on Starting a Spring Garden (podcast)

Welcome to the first podcast at A Larrapin Garden. Wow, this stuff is fun. If you scroll down to the bottom of this post you’ll see an audio player. Click the arrow and you can listen now, or click the download link to download the file and listen whenever you want. (If you are reading this via an email subscription, I think you’ll have to go to the Larrapin Blog Site to listen.)

My first Fayetteville gardening teacher, Dr. Calvin Bey of Harmony Gardens, agreed to a chat on getting ready to start gardening this spring. Calvin is an amazing organic and ecological gardener who approaches the process in a systematic, experimental process that befits his background as a scientist. Calvin’s garden is about 2000 square feet, he tells me, and he regularly gets 2000 pounds of produce a year from our NWA growing season that runs from mid-April to late October.

But that 2000 pounds is not “ordinary” organic produce. Calvin’s focus is “nutrient-dense” produce, grown in re-mineralized soil so that the produce will contain the maximum nutrition.

Turns out you can measure the nutritional quality of a vegetable with a special gadget, and of course Calvin has one! But the results can be startling. Even the loveliest-looking, organically grown vegetable can be lacking in the nutrition we all believe is in there. It all depends on the soil.  And don’t get me started on the nutrient content of typical store-bought conventional produce. (Ok, can’t help it: One study I read suggested we’d have to eat about 3-5 times the portions of modern vegetables to really get the vitamins and minerals supposedly contained in one portion. The quality of most commercial-farm soils—which is where the veggies get the nutrition to pass on to us— has diminished to that point.)

Besides human health, other side effects of nutrient-dense produce include increased productivity from the plants as well as increased shelf-life and disease/bug resistance. When you ask Calvin how he handles many common diseases and insect attacks in his garden, he will often shrug and smile. He doesn’t have them!

It all goes back to the soil. Well, doesn’t everything. Literally.

If you are into veggie gardening and willing to expand your mind (and understanding of soil) exponentially, I would heartily encourage you to take one of Calvin’s Saturday classes. He’s offering several of the one-day courses this Spring. (See for info and signup.) You’ll learn enough in one class to keep you exploring for the next several years, or lifetimes. Plus, best of all, you get to see Calvin’s lovely garden and smart home. But you’ll see the real treasure when you push back a little mulch and take a look at that soil. (Guests are asked to refrain from the temptation of bringing shovels and buckets!) 🙂

Click the player below to listen to a 23 minute interview with Calvin, or download to listen at your convenience. (10mb mp3 file)

Thanks for stopping by Larrapin! Let me know what you think of the new audio feature!

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