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 BLOG >> Recent

Do Nothing Gardening [Permaculture
Posted on August 3, 2016 @ 07:54:00 AM by Paul Meagher

I am currently conducting an experiment with some Brandywine tomatos. I planted some Brandywines last year and this year I had some volunteer seedlings that I transplanted into a small 8 x 10 plot. I planted them over a month ago and ignored them for the most part until I noticed how big they had grown in the last few weeks. Here is a photo of them taken yesterday:

I'm hoping I can get away with some do-nothing tomato gardening. I'll be looking to see if the dense growth of the tomato vines will be self-supporting so I don't have to stake anything. This vigorous indeterminate vining tomato variety may grow completely out of control. I'm not expecting high production, but it might happen. Decent production without having to do any ongoing work would be fine.

I'm also experimenting with some do-nothing potato growing. I planted my own seed potatos from last year into a rotten hay pile about a month ago. A few have started to sprout and grow above the hay.

Growing potatos in hay is not as simple as it is often portrayed to be. I've tried 5 different approaches and only one has panned out so far. The depth of this pile of hay is quite thick to retain moisture better and to provide more room for growth, this hay pile was turned last fall bringing rotted bottom hay to the top and disturbing any rodent habitat, there is not alot of new seed to attract rodents and I created a nearby pile of newer hay (unfit bales from this year's haymaking) that might attract any rodents better than this pile. I'm looking for fairly high production from these potatos, higher than when planted in the ground. I'm also looking for unblemished potatos with a mix of smaller and larger potatoes. They should be clean enough to eat without much cleaning. Just because it is a do-nothing method of gardening does not mean that I always have low expections.

In business we often expend effort unnecessarily trying to control a process that might unfold better if left alone. This is also true of gardening. Do nothing gardening can help change your perspective on gardening and business. A business will not become successful by "doing nothing". That is not what I am suggesting. What I am suggesting is that you evaluate whether you really have to put out effort to control a person or process, or whether you would get better results by standing back and letting things happen naturally. You often need to setup the context (based on some pattern understanding) in which do-nothing happens but then you can step away and see if that is all the effort you need to put in to get and keep the ball rolling rolling for awhile. Put your time into something else that is more worthy of your time and attention. Doing nothing frees up time for doing something in other areas that need it more.

Easier said than done. The Japanese farmer/philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka was the founder of Natural Farming which is a farming approach that is popular in Asia. He discussed the philosophical bases and practical techniques he used to minimize the amount of work/intervention required to grow grain crops, veggies, and fruits. You can find inspiration for this approach in his books. It is a buddism-inspired approach so should appeal to those with that inclination or background.

The decison to use natural methods versus more conventional growing methods is not an all-or-nothing decision. I don't put all my eggs into the natural approach as I've gotten burned trying to grow potatoes in hay. I am currently also growing some tomatoes and potatoes using conventional approaches. If I ever develop enough pattern understanding to use natural methods effectively, I would probably opt to use natural approaches as there is not much point in putting in more effort than you have to to get the same or greater yield. I have better things to focus my limited resources on. Strategically doing nothing means you have time to do something else and is, paradoxically, a key to productivity.




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