Often we focus on what animals such as cows or chickens were fed prior to becoming our dinner meat or producing milk and eggs. But how often do we question what plants were fed before we consumed them? For those of us growing our own produce or acquiring locally grown food, it is relevant to know what the plants have eaten. What should I be feeding my food?
I am approaching this with the same question I ask when supplying all our needs. What are the healthy answers and how can we provide and make it ourselves? Not surprising to me at this point, my answers came after sifting through many conversations and articles on the web which, as usual, firmly repeat opinions as statements of fact both from one side of the pro-chemical GMO side versus the organic and heirloom foodies on the other. It requires invoking Cognitive Dissonance Rule #4: believe nothing but consider everything.
For those like me who have close to zero training and knowledge about growing plants, especially under the pressure of attempting to regularly supplement the family’s food supply, allow me to share the beginnings of my education in shedding my brown thumb. When filtering through information on the web and in books, it is easy to become intimidated by the complex explanations describing fertilizers, compost and soil amendments. Scaling it back to my level of comfort, here are the basics.
I thought all that was needed to grow food were sunshine, water and dirt with good drainage. It turns out there are three other vital factors. The first is the NPK available to the plants. NPK are the symbols for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. The second is other trace elements which plants need, much the same way humans need a variety of vitamins and minerals to thrive. The third is considering the pH level of the soil and understanding what the pH needs are for various plants.
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