Create your own sustainable garden

by Joshua Overton Young

hether you are a commercial grower, farmer, or just a weekend gardener, you probably realize your soil quality is important for optimal growing. For the most part, our soil has been depleted of its natural nutrients over the past 50-plus years.

Chemical fertilizers have been used for a quick fix. Actually, these chemicals kill the living organic matter in the soil. The best way to turn this cycle around is by creating Sustainable soil.

A good definition of Sustainable Agriculture is: The practice of applying and cultivating quality soil, building organic materials and nurturing the natural flora, fauna and other natural life forms of the soil, for which there are in excess of one million in a healthy soil. Of course, you can always use:

Mother Nature's Recipe for "sustainable soil:"

Yield: 1 acre of 6" -deep healthy soil, able to sustain the production of thriving plants without the introduction of artificial chemicals.

Directions: In any sunny location, mix well:

Carefully blend in the Microfauna:

Not all organics are equal

Don't worry if the above seems daunting. It really isn't as complicated as it sounds.

The good news is that there are excellent organic amendments available locally that will promote sustainability in your garden. While organics are of the utmost importance, it is important to understand that not all organic products contribute to the goal of sustainability. Many organic products can actually impede plant growth and damage the soil. Heavily used offenders include wood-based organic amendments, manures and contaminated water.

Living so close to the ocean has other benefits besides the surf and sand: the kelp that it produces is probably the best organic material that you could ever use to amend your soil. It is a main active ingredient the quality organic matter in the recipe above.

A San Diego based company, The American Kelp Corporation, has combined science with good old mother nature to develop an entire menu of organic growing products that will help lead to a sustainable garden. It doesn't happen over night and it isn't a miracle in a box. But with some work with the land and using organic materials from The American Kelp, a sustainable garden is a very achievable goal.

American Kelp sells products that have been developed with Kelp and Saponin as their main ingredients. As one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world, ocean kelp is also one of the best quality organic materials that you could ever add to your soil. Saponin is an extract of the Yucca plant, which grows and thrives in the desert, without much water and under the stress of extreme temperatures of both hot and cold. Saponin has been proven to be a very potent bio-steroid, which makes plants stronger and more resistant to pests and disease. It also aerates and opens the soil to allow moisture to be used by the deepest roots.

Both Kelp and Saponin are processed by American Kelp and made into amendments that can be used to totally re-work a growing area into sustainability, or to retroactively work on an existing garden or landscape. American Kelp also manufactures and sells liquid foliars, which are extract concentrates of kelp and saponin. These foliars have been used in many different growing applications with great success.

These products and others are now available at American Kelp's Sustainable Garden Center located at 2118 Imperial Avenue, just north of the Coronado bridge and across the street from the San Diego Farmers Market.

One last tip: If you've been having any problems with insects the past couple of years, you'll probably want to pick up a bottle or two of the all-natural "Harry's Hot Stuff". This is totally organic and won't kill the insects, but it does make them mad enough to leave.