Soil Health is Key to Raised Bed Gardening Success

Most potting soils and soil that you buy from garden centers have short supplies of nutrients and in order to be successful for years to come with raised bed gardening you must supply nutrients to these soils.

Raised bed gardeners beware, standard potting soil and/or soil that you get from a garden center is low in organic matter, has no bug life, has been sterilized and typically has the minimal amount of nutrients and minerals needed to provide enough life to support vegetables and flowers for one to two years. So you either need to purchase new soil one to two years to refill your garden beds with, which can be expensive over time, you can add chemical fertilizers which will damage your soil over time, or you can plant specific crops that fix nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and more in your soil. I highly recommend the third option and we’re going to explore how raised bed gardeners can enhance the life of standard potting soil and soil that you buy from garden centers without adding chemicals fertilizers to their soil.

Soil is alive, yet when you sterilize soil (this is a very common practice in bagged soil or soil that comes from a garden center) you kill all of the soil’s life. Potting soil typically has those white, rock-like substances in them and yes these white rock-like substances are fertilizer and these fertilizers pellets break down in a year or so which leaves the soil without anything to support plant growth. Garden center soil is sometimes amended with compost or other nutrient mixes and once again, compost and nutrient mixes only last for a short period of time before they get depleted and then you’re left with lifeless soil. So what is a raised bed gardener to do?

Plant peas, beans, clover, alfalfa, peanuts and other nitrogen-fixing crops. Nitrogen-fixing crops have bacteria that grow on their stems that can take the nitrogen that is in the air that cannot be used by plants or humans and convert it into a usable form to provide the soil with a steady supply of nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the key nutrients that vegetables need to grow and all soil can store nitrogen.

Cover cropping your soil at the end of the season and then laying the cover crops back over your soil will provide calcium, phosphorus, potassium and more to your soil. Common cover crops include hairy vetch, oats, field peas, buckwheat and rye. If you plant cover crops before winter, then kill them in the spring before they flower and finally lay the killed cover crop on top of your soil, they will break down over time and supply your soil with these key nutrients. One of the major factors in cover cropping is to plant your seeds underneath the cover crops so that they can directly receive nutrients while they are growing.

While cover crops are a fantastic panacea for lack of nutrients in the soil, not every cover crop works in every environment. So before purchasing a cover crop you will want to find your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and then research cover crops that grow well in your plant hardiness zone. Certain cover crops also support certain vegetable growth and you also need to make sure that the cover crops that you are going to purchase are beneficial to the vegetables and/or flowers that you want to grow.

Planting cover crops and nitrogen-fixing plants can make a huge difference in adding life to your soil and when it comes to adding life to your soil this is something that you have to do on a yearly basis. So make sure to plan out your cover crop seeds on a yearly basis and plant nitrogen-fixing plants on a yearly basis as well. Doing so will ensure that you can keep your soil healthy and strong for years to come and ensure your raised beds gardening success

The Organic No-Till Methodology for Gardeners

Gardens can benefit tremendously from the organic no-till methodology

Organic no-till agriculture is the ultimate way, in my opinion, to restore the health of your soil. Organic no-till agriculture involves planting cover crops either in between or at the end of your season, killing the cover crop before it flowers by pulling the cover crop out of the soil from its root and laying the cover crop back over the soil. Then you plant seeds directly below the crop cover so that the cover crop provides instant nutrients and minerals to your seeds and you create a thick mat of mulch that can store and slowly release water to your seeds, reducing the amount of water and fertilizers usage in your garden.

Cover crops are brilliant tools to build up the health of your soil as they help turn unusable nitrogen in the air into nitrogen that your plants can use, they breakdown directly into your soil to contribute phosphorous, potassium, calcium and more directly back to the soil and research from the Rodale Institute, the leading organic no-till farm has shown that using the organic no-till system consistently increases yields in dozens upon dozens of crops. So why has this technique not made its way to gardeners.

I believe that part of the reason why organic no-till methodology has not made its way to gardeners is because gardens are small-scale and many people think that this methodology is used on large-scale farms. In all actuality, organic no-till principles work extremely well in small-scale gardens. We used this technique at Pure Love Organic Farms, in New York City, to quickly turn our contaminated, yellow-ish soil into fertile soil that was high in organic matter in less than 6 months.

Another reason why gardeners may not be aware of this methodology is because not many gardeners utilize techniques that restore the health of their soil at the end of the season. Adding compost is great in the spring and if you utilized cover crops at the end of the fall season you could set your soil up for tremendous success in the spring and the addition of compost in tandem with organic no-till agricultural principles would supercharge your soil and create yields like you have never seen before. This was one of our keys to growing over 300 tulips, over 50 hyacinths and dozens of daffodils, irises and crocuses every spring.

Organic no-til agriculture also provides a tremendous defense against weeds as many cover crops have allelopathic properties that naturally suppress weed growth. Add in the thick layer of green mulch that cover crops generate and the ability for cover crops to alter soil microbial communities to prevent weed growth and you have a killer solution for suppressing weed growth (https://articles.extension.org/pages/18524/how-cover-crops-suppress-weeds)

.Using organic no-till methodology is a big boon for your garden. This system of growing can be implemented quickly and start to show dividends for your garden in less than 6 months. If you are interested in utilizing organic no-till methodology in your garden, schedule a consultation with us so we can create a plan to bring the amazing benefits of organic no-till agriculture to your garden.

Michael Forman is an urban farmer who foundedΒ Pure Love Sustainability Inc.Β and teaches gardeners and farmers how to create optimal conditions for soil health. Michael loves teaching these techniques and principals to new gardeners and offers no-cost initial garden consultations that help gardeners create and maintain the gardens of their dreams. If you want to learn any of these techniques, need support in your garden and/or want to try your hand at gardening for the first-time, please fill out a contact form on hisΒ website

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Knowing what can and cannot grow in your climate zone can significantly accelerate your gardening success rate.

Three weeks ago I met with a client who said that they wanted to grow food in their yard for the first-time. During our consultation he said that they wanted to grow lemon trees in their backyard and I instantly told him that there was no way that he could grow lemon trees and expect them to produce lemons where he lives unless he was going to constantly bring the trees back and forth from his yard to his home. He understood this and then he asked me “Well why does the Home Depot here sell lemon trees?” My answer was “They’ll grow in a greenhouse here and lemon trees need the summer heat of Arizona or Southern California to grow”. I can understand the hope that that my client got from seeing a lemon tree at the Home Depot and it made me realize that people are not aware of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones and how they affect what can and cannot grow in their climates.

I really thought that everyone knew about their USDA Plant Hardiness Zone or at the very least understood that only certain fruit, vegetables, flowers and bushes only grew in certain climates. Yet most people don’t and it’s not because they are ignorant or unaware, it’s because books, YouTube Videos and Pinterest posts exist that tell people that you can grow 250 pounds of produce on a quarter acre of land, that you can start a lasagna garden that will restore the health of your soil in no time and provide an abundance of organic veggies and posts that show that you can grow pineapples in cold climates if you follow this garden hack. Yet gardening for the most part is not magical and there are so many factors that go into your success including your experience level.

Are these things possible, yes? Does it take a solid amount of knowledge, skill, experience and problem-solving ability to make it happen? Yes, yes it does. New gardeners need to start small and learn the basics first and one of the key basic principles to know is your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Your plant hardiness zone is based on the climate that you live in and gives you a historically accurate view of when you can begin to plant where you live, when your growing season ends and what types of fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees and bushes will grow well in your climate zone.

Your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone will also help you to determine when you should start the different types of crops that you want to plant for the year and will save you a lot of guessing time. Armed with this knowledge, you can scientifically plan your garden for the year and avoid some of the challenges that have stopped you in the past.

Michael Forman is an urban farmer who founded Pure Love Sustainability Inc. and teaches gardeners and farmers how to create optimal conditions for soil health and help gardeners and farmers get maximum yields year in and year out. Michael loves teaching these techniques and principals to new gardeners and offers no-cost initial garden consultations that help gardeners create and maintain the gardens of their dreams. If you want to learn any of these techniques, need support in your garden and/or want to try your hand at gardening for the first-time, please fill out a contact form on his website

Soil is Alive

The life that exists or doesn’t exist in your soil produce the results that you get in your garden.

Soil is comprised of a mixture of bacteria, fungi, algae, minerals, nutrients, protozoa, nematodes, ants, worms, spiders and a host of other creatures and organisms that can be visible or invisible to the human eye. Actually I am going to edit a portion of that statement, the correct statement is healthy soil is comprised of a mixture of algae, minerals, nutrients, protozoa, nematodes, ants, worms, spiders and a host of other creatures and organisms that can be visible or invisible to the human eye. It is the health of our soil that produces the results that you get in your garden. Yet, so many of the methods that we have been told to use to grow strong healthy plants actually destroy the life in your soil.

It is the naturally occurring life in soil that makes soil healthy. I know that we hate seeing bugs in our soil and some bugs are actually beneficial for our soil, our vegetables, our flowers, our fruit trees and berry bushes. In fact in most cases an outbreak of bugs that are eating the vegetables, fruit and/or flowers in your garden is caused by a lack of bug life in your soil as certain bugs like spiders, ladybugs, caterpillars, praying mantises and beetles feast on the insects that eat your crops (https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/beneficial-insects/).

Yet chemical pesticides are designed to kill all bug life and bug life can and will eventually become resistant to consistent pesticide use which can lead to your garden having an abundance of aphids, Colorado potato beetles, slugs, earwigs and cutworms because of a lack of predatory bugs that control their populations as a result of spraying pesticides. I know that it may be hard not to spray pesticides and nature takes care of itself when you give it the right conditions. Certain bugs like worms are actually gardeners best friends (https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/soils/biology/earthworms) as worms increase nutrient availability in your soil, improve soil drainage, improve soil structure and their castings are a natural fertilizer that is rich in all of the things that your soil needs to grow beautiful flowers, vegetables, fruit and more.

Chemical fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro are one of the many things that we have been told to use to enhance the growth of our flowers and vegetables and while Miracle-Gro gets the job done, it also has such high nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous levels that it burns your soil and over time will kill most forms of life. So much so that in a few years you have to not only continue to use Miracle-Gro on your flowers and vegetables, but in fact you have to use more Miracle-Gro than you did a few years ago because the soil is dead. I have had a handful of people reach out to me panicking because their gardens don’t look right and nothing is growing and one of the first questions that I ask them is what fertilizers have you used. The reason that I ask is this because consistent use of chemical fertilizers, which by the way are also petroleum (gasoline) based, will eventually strip the life from your soil. When bacterial, fungal and bug life are stripped from your soil it will become as infertile and you may start to see massive weeds take over your garden. Chemical fertilizers also completely unnecessary if you are using compost or techniques such as organic no-till agriculture to restore the health of your soil (More on organic no-till agriculture to come later).

Fungicides are also big problem for soil life. Yes nobody wants fungal outbreaks in their soil or on their plants and by spraying fungicides in your soil you are killing the natural balance of fungus that exists in all healthy soil. Once there is no fungal matter left in the soil, bacterial colonies have no competition and your soil becomes so bacterial or alkaline that not many things can grow in it. Here’s the thing though, fungal outbreaks in your soil and on your plants are typically caused by low nutrient and bacterial levels in your soil. So by spraying fungicides in your soil, you are only creating conditions that can cause more fungal outbreaks. I know it sounds counterintuitive and fungicides kill life in the soil which can cause a host of other issues to pop up.

Bacterial life, bug, life, fungal life and soil organism life are kin to our immune system. They all protect the soil from being diseased, they protect the soil from being ravaged by harmful bacteria or predators and they keep the soil strong and alive for years to come. There are also many ways to increase the health of your soil, just like there are many ways to boost our immune system and there are a number of ways to naturally increase the health of your soil.

  1. Compost

Compost is easily made from a proper mixture of browns (high carbon materials such as dead plant material, paper, newspaper, dead leaves, etc.) and greens (high nitrogen materials such as grass clippings, hay, food scraps, green leaves and more). An active compost pile produces high heat which can kill weed seeds and the warm, wet, food-rich, plant debris-rich environment of compost piles attract beneficial bugs like spiders, worms, ladybugs and more who help to break the food scraps and plant material down. Once compost is finished, you will have a nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium rich soil amendment that you can add directly onto or dig into your soil. The bug life that was living in your compost pile will also return to the soil and control the populations of bugs that eat your vegetables, flowers and fruit.

2. Opening air pockets in your soil

Soil can easily become diseased if it does not receive air. Fungus loves to live in tightly packed areas that receive little to no oxygen. When your soil is too tightly compacted it can become a breeding ground for fungal colonies which can turn your soil from bacterial (pH levels above 7.0) to fungal (pH levels below 7.0). Fungal soil is conducive to growing trees, flowers, a small array of vegetables and some berry bushes and it will not support vegetable growth over time. So opening air pockets in your soil will help your soil to breathe and will create the space for bacterial life to come back to your soil, creating balance of bacterial and fungal life in your soil.

3. Nitrogen-fixing crops

Vegetables, flowers, trees, bushes and wood chips all deplete nitrogen from the soil. Wood chips are a great way to suppress weeds and they siphon nitrogen from your soil as they are breaking down. Every time that something grows, nitrogen gets depleted from the soil and as mentioned before you do not want to put high levels of nitrogen in your soil or else it could burn the soil, so what should you do to restore nitrogen levels in your soil?

Plant nitrogen-fixing crops. There are a handful of crops (peas, legumes and beans) that attract bacteria to the their roots that can take the nitrogen that exists in the area and turn it into a useable form for itself, the soil and the plant around it. So by planting nitrogen-fixing crops you are naturally restoring the nitrogen levels in your soil. One thing to note is that most flowers and trees do not grow well in soil that has high levels of nitrogen, so it is advised that you plant only one to two nitrogen-fixing plants in areas where you grow flowers or trees.

4. Proper crop rotations

Crop rotations are key. Vegetables and flowers all pull nutrients from the soil to aid in their growth. So if we continue to plant the same things in the same spot year in and year out, the soil will become bereft of nutrients over time and will never get the chance to restore its nutrient stores. This is what happened in the Dust Bowl, the same crops got planted in the same spot every year until the soil was stripped of all of its nutrients and the soil lost its structure and became completely infertile. Properly rotating your crops will help restore the soil nutrient balance as different vegetables and flowers use different nutrients and can also enhance the structure of your soil.

5. Organic no-till agriculture

This is my preferred methodology and it is one of the keys to unleashing the power of your soil. There are certain crops called cover crops that are not intended to be consumed or used. Cover crops are high in nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and other key plant nutrients and they get planted either as a rotational crop or a few weeks before your garden’s growing window is about to end. When planting a cover crop the goal is to let it grow to its fullest, cut off the first flower that the cover crop produces and then pull the cover crop out of the soil from its roots. Killing the cover crop before it flowers is key as cover crops are extremely hardy and reproduce easily and if you let too many of them go to seed you will have a new crop of cover crops growing instead of the seeds that you actually want to grow. Once you pull the cover crop from its roots, you will lay it back over the soil to create a thick mulch of plant-life that will breakdown into the soil and contribute all of the nutrients that are held within the cover crops directly to the soil, hence creating a green manure that restores the life to your soil.

You then plant directly into the soil that you laid the dead cover crop on top of and your seeds will naturally receive the nutrients that they need. Cover cropping is a brilliant system and research has consistently shown that vegetables grow larger and produce more in areas that use the organic no-till methodology.

Maintaining the life in your soil is a top priority for gardeners and farmers alike. When your soil is rich in naturally rich in nutrients, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, iron, bacterial life, fungal life and bug life, your plants will continue to be strong year in and year out and you will have fewer issues in your garden or on your farm.

Michael Forman is an urban farmer who founded Pure Love Sustainability Inc. and teaches gardeners and farmers how to create optimal conditions for soil health and utilize all of the above techniques to help gardeners and farmers get maximum yields year in and year out. Michael loves teaching these techniques and principals to new gardeners and offers no-cost initial garden consultations that help gardeners create and maintain the gardens of their dreams. If you want to learn any of these techniques, need support in your garden and/or want to try your hand at gardening for the first-time, please fill out a contact form on his website

The Gardeners Journey

Starting a garden is exciting, having a productive garden three years later is a success

Tulips at Pure Love Organic Farms

Gardening seems magical and it both is and is not magical. Yes it is magical when you plant a small vegetable or flower seed and it grows into a productive plant or flower and it is not magical as gardening also has a lot to do with the health of your soil, the type of soil that you are working with, the ability of the seed that you are planting to grow in the area that you live in and the plant hardiness zone that you live in. In fact gardening is more scientific than it is magical.

I own a garden and farm design and planning business and I work with homeowners and farmers to help them build the gardens and farms of their dreams and also to teach homeowners to plant seeds, maintain their crops and enrich their soil as my goal is for my clients to need me for 1 year and then have the tools that they need to grow their own food, flowers, fruit and shrubs. I ventured into the world of gardening and farming in a very interesting way though – I had a crazy vision to start an organic farm in NYC and ended up turning an illegal garbage dump site in my neighborhood in the Bronx into an organic flower farm with the help of a few friends.

When I found the space that became our farm its soil was yellow-ish, there wasn’t a blade of grass nor a weed growing and we didn’t see a single bug of any sort. All of which are really strong signs that your soil is dead and even though I knew nothing about this, I knew that we needed to restore the soil. So I started digging with my hand and within minutes of digging I was pulling garbage out of the soil. I kept on coming back and kept on sharing my vision with others and soon we had a team of people who were working with us. We removed over 500 pounds of asphalt, concrete, bricks, car parts, large oil drums, carpets and more from the soil within our first three months there. While we were doing this work a friend suggested that we build a compost pile and I read a book and we did it.

A few months later we spread our compost, organic alfalfa meal that we bought (to restore the nitrogen levels in the soil) and an organic bacterial solution that we bought (to add bacterial life to our soil) on the soil and within a few weeks of taking these actions we had normal looking soil. So we decided to plant about 60 seeds and many fo them grew and while this seemed magical to us, it actually wasn’t. Our soil was healthy, was rich in nitrogen, had plenty of organic matter in it, was teeming with worms, ants, spiders, beetles, roly-poly bugs and more and had strong bacterial and fungal life, which are all the key markers of soil health. This is why our seeds grew and became productive pepper plants, lemon balm, bok choy, cilantro, nasturtiums and marigolds. If we would have planted in the dead soil that we inherited, it is highly unlikely that any of these 60 seeds would have grown.

During the process of restoring the health of the soil at the piece of land that we were working on (We called the space “The Land” for a while because we did not know if we could ever turn it into a farm) we learned a lot and we learned that vegetables only grow in bacterial soil and flowers, bushes, shrubs and trees grow in somewhat acidic to highly acidic soil. The Land that we were restoring had 80% of its space covered by trees and while we were digging up the soil and removing the garbage that was in the soil we found sheets of fungus and these factors told us that our soil was acidic which would not bode well for vegetable growth.

So we went about finding solutions to this challenge and this is where our finished compost, organic alfalfa meal and organic bacterial solution came into play. Finished compost that has an equal proportion of greens to browns (greens include all food scraps, green leaves, grass clippings, hay and any fresh plant material that is still green. Browns include brown leaves, twigs, branches, paper products, straw and soil) helps to make your soil bacterial as well as nitrogen-rich as flowers, trees, shrubs and berry bushes do not need much nitrogen to grow and in order to grow vegetables your soil needs to have nitrogen in it. All of these amendments changed the soil type from fungal to bacterial and our bacterial soil provided the proper conditions for vegetables to grow.

We also learned that we needed to find seeds that were adapted to growing in New York City and we found out that something called a plant hardiness zone exists. Plant hardiness zones allow farmers and gardeners to determine which plants are most likely to thrive in their region of the country https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/. We learned that seeds that were grown in our plant hardiness zone (7a) and seeds that were adapted to the winter and summer conditions that NYC experienced would do best in our soil.

So we searched for a seed producer that was either in zone 7a or in zone 6b (seeds that are produced in close by zones typically work well in your plant hardiness zone) and we came across High Mowing Seeds, a USDA Certified Organic seed producing company and bought seeds from them. We also learned that great seed producers will clearly tell you which seeds are easy to grow, which seeds require open pollination (either a pollinator such as a bee, bug or bird needs to pollinate the seed or you need to pollinate the seed yourself in order for it to grow) and which seeds were difficult to grow and needed care that was far beyond our knowledge and we decided to order only easy to grow seeds as we needed to learn how to produce vegetables. We found a number of other great USDA Certified Organic seed producing companies along the way and none of them were in our Plant Hardiness Zone and we learned that seeds won’t grow well in your region if they are not adapted to your climate no matter how great the seeds that you bought are.

Our scientific pursuit of restoring the health of the soil, learning about our Plant Hardiness Zone and choosing seeds that were adapted to our Plant Hardiness Zone is what brought us success in our first year. Our success was magical as neither myself nor the Co-Founder of our farm had ever planted a seed or taken care of a houseplant and with the right scientific processes we grew things. We did have the support of 3 fantastic friends who brought key knowledge to us and we turned “The Land” into an organic flower farm in year two and we grew over 400 organic tulips, more than 50 organic hyacinths, 50 organic daffodils, 50 organic irises, about 50 organic crocuses, 10 organic lilies and dozens of organic nasturtium flowers for three straight years at our organic, sustainable flower farm. Then we we all decided that we accomplished our mission and we all ended up moving on to further our own organic, sustainable agricultural missions in the world.

Having the right scientific processes made all of the difference in our success and this is what I want to leave all new and even experienced gardeners with. When you are working with someone who knows how to build the health of your soil, who knows which seeds will grow in your Plant Hardiness Zone, who knows what seeds are adapted to your region and how to identify the type of soil that is in your garden of farm they can help you succeed for as many years as you want to have a garden for.

Michael Forman is the founder of Pure Love Sustainability Inc and his mission is to restore the well-being of people, society and the planet. Michael offers no-cost consultations to gardeners and farmers alike and can help you to create the garden or farm of your dreams. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation please click here


Why First-Time Gardeners Need to Start Small

Building healthy soil is the key to growing healthy food.

Many first-time gardeners get so excited about the potential to grow all of their own food and create ambitious plans to do so. I love the excitement and am all for people growing there own food and gardening is not always a magical process where you plant a seed and a vegetable or flower grows. There are many factors that lead to a seed growing into a productive plant and first-time gardeners need to learn how to create the conditions for 5 healthy onions to grow before they attempt to grow 50 healthy onions.

Starting with ambitious garden goals gives you direction, clear actions to take and excitement to getting your harden up and running and having a huge garden goal when you have never had a garden before is like applying to CEO jobs when you’re fresh out of college and have never worked a full-time job before. Yes you can eventually be a CEO and there are you a lot to things to learn before you can become the CEO of a company. It’s the same thing with gardening – before you can grow 50 healthy peppers you need to learn how to grow 5 healthy peppers consistently because there are a lot of factors that go into growing food.

One of the most important factors that goes into growing food is healthy soil. I am all for growing your own food in your yard and supplying 100% of your food needs from your gardens. In fact I believe that growing food is the way to build resilient, sustainable communities and cities and successful gardening comes down to more than just planting a handful of seeds and seeing if things grow. Successful gardening comes from healthy soil and healthy soil is created over time.

There are so many gardening books that can teach you how to plan a garden that will allow you to grow 250 pounds of vegetables per year on a quarter-acre of land and feed your family and your community. Yes this can be accomplished and the key to accomplishing this is experience as no matter how great the plan that the book has given you is, your potato crops may get overrun with Colorado potato beetles that will kill your potato plants before you even get a chance to harvest them or some other issue that you did not know how to deal with can cause a huge mold buildup in your garden and completely halt production.

Garden issues or challenges can be brought on by a number of factors and they typically happen because the bacterial and fungal life in your soil has been depleted due to use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, choosing not to rotate your crops and not restoring the health of your soil over the course of a few seasons. Yet this great book that you bought that gives you the formula to grow 500 pounds of produce on a quarter-acre did not tell you any of these things.

It’s not the fault of the author and growing food is more complex than just planting seeds and having things grow. Yes it is magical when peppers, tomatoes and cilantro start growing in your yard and growing food is also not magical, in fact it is scientific in nature. The science of growing food comes down to the health of your soil as there are millions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, microbes, organic matter and more organisms in just a few ounces of soil. Bug life such as worms, spiders, ants, mites, lady bugs and other insects are also key markers of soil health. It is the organisms in your soil that gives your soil life and we must replenish the life in the soil in order for our soil to continue to have life and continue to grow food.

When you think of soil think of it like you would think about your body. Iron is a key mineral that your body relies on for a variety of functions including producing red blood cells. Iron is also one of the key components that help you produce new red blood cells. Your body naturally has built up stores of iron and you can survive for a while solely on the iron that your body has stored and if you do not replenish the iron in your body over time your iron stores will get low and your body will not be able to produce red blood cells at the frequency that it needs to. Red blood cells carry nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as oxygen to your cells and if you are not producing enough red blood cells due to having depleted our iron stores you will experience fatigue, lethargy and an inability to produce the amount of energy that you are used to producing.

Soil works the exact same way. If you have moved to a new home where nothing but grass has grown in the backyard for the last 20 years then there should be decently strong mineral and nutrient stores in your soil. So yes if you remove the grass from your yard and start planting vegetables the vegetables should grow for the most part (certain vegetables need to be pollinated by bees, bugs, birds or other creatures to grow and some vegetables need really specific pH levels and nutrient levels to grow) and you may end up with some tomatoes at the end of the year, which is fantastic! You may be able to plant tomatoes for a few more years and get the same yield and eventually the soil will become deficient in the minerals and nutrients that are needed to grow tomatoes and your yields will decline. This is very common in gardens and then people turn to chemical fertilizers to get your vegetables to grow, chemical fertilizers are so harsh that they also kill soil life and eventually over time your soil will become infertile because you did not replenish the vitamins and minerals that your soil needs in order to sustain life.

So the first thing that a gardener needs to learn is how to restore the health of their soil and this is why you need an experienced professional who knows how to do this. I am your experienced professional, my strength is in restoring the heath of the soil and constantly providing the soil with what it needs to be able to thrive. I have taken dead soil and turned it into productive soil in just a few months. I know how to create proper crop rotations to ward off Colorado potato beetles, aphids, mites and other creatures that will come and significantly impact your yields for the season and I can get you to the place where you can be a master in restoring the health of your soil and grow all of the onions that you want to grow, grow all of the peppers that you want to grow and grow all of the tomatoes that you want to grow for as long as you want to grow them.

If you want to master your soil and ultimately create the garden of your dreams then please schedule an initial consultation with me where we can discuss what the garden of your dreams looks like and supply you with the education that you need to make it happen. Click here to schedule a consultation now!

Wild and crazy ambition

It takes nerve, verve and big dreams to make a difference in the world and without it I don’t think I could have kept on going and kept on pursuing my dreams.

I’m going to riff here. A lot of people probably think I’m crazy. I have a big vision and want to make a huge difference in the world, so it comes with the territory and as I continue to pursue my big goals I realize that it takes a certain amount of passionate fervor and willingness to go past where you would have stopped before to make your vision into reality. Turning my big vision into reality though has not been easy. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in making my big vision into reality is dealing with self-doubt, overcoming past failures and seeing myself as the leader that I have seen glimpses of since I was 10 years old.

My big vision became clear to me in 2014, after the first season at Pure Love Organic Farms and formed from a wild idea. In early 2013, my best friend and I were coming home from a night in Manhattan and we were talking about a friend that we had both known for over 15 years and we were very worried about his health and in particular his chance to have a heart attack in the next few years as he worked crazy hours, ate poorly, became quite overweight, drank like crazy and embodied the work hard party harder lifestyle that comes with attending and graduating from an Ivy League School. My friend and I had just become vegan and we were starting to make a difference in the health of the people around us – I as a health coach that was trained by a Medical Doctor and he as an influential person who people frequently came to for advice about all areas of life including health.

Even though we were making a big difference in the health of the people around us, we realized though that we had not made the slightest impact with our friend and couldn’t even begin conversation with him about his health. We were able to identify our challenge – he and his group of friends make big money and care about what thy have (a $5,000 a month apartment in NYC, a fancy BMW, a Director position at a Wealth Management Company, etc.) and we realized that while my best friend and I were both successful, we also did not have anything to show this group that we had put all of our hard work and effort into. So I started to think about what we could do that made a difference in the world and showed this group that we do something amazing and have something that we were extremely proud of.

2 minutes later, I turn to my friend and say, “I have a crazy idea and hear me out. Let’s start a farm!” and off we went. Two NYC kids who had never planted a seed before nor taken care of a plant were going to start a farm. Yeah, right?

Actually yeah that is right! 3 months after this conversation I found a piece of well-worn land in the neighborhood that I lived in and just started digging with my bare hands. Within minutes of digging, I ran into garbage and I kept on coming back and kept on bringing my friend who I was going to start the farm with. We dug with our hands and started to realize that the soil was in terrible shape and was a yellowish color and we kept on coming back. We started to run into asphalt and concrete that were buried int he soil and we talked with other friends about our desire to build a farm and two of our childhood friends joined the team.

We ended up removing 600+ pound of asphalt, concrete, bricks, car parts, oil cans, carpets and more from the soil and through the recommendation of another friend we built a compost pile and generated compost that we laid back over the soil. Within six months of working not he farm in our spare-time, we restored the health of the soil to normal looking soil and we decided to plant a few seeds to see if anything grew.

Things grew, it was miraculous!!! We had pepper plants, calendula flowers, nasturtiums, lemon balm, cilantro and a few other vegetables growing. It was mind-boggling that a bunch of city-kids could do this and we went into 2014 with a plan to make this into a farm.

During the winter of 2013 I read an letter to the editor in Organic Gardening magazine from a young woman who had just graduated some sort of agricultural training program and in the letter she talked about how she and her cohort of classmates wanted to start their own farms, but had to get other jobs so that they could hope to eventually save enough money to buy land. This shocked me, I had no idea that land was so expensive and saw a massive, massive problem that needed to be solved – land availability for young farmers. I quickly came to realize through some research that the average age of a farmer in the U.S. is about 60 years old and as they age out there won’t be young farmers who can afford to buy their land which means that food production in the U.S. would be ruled by the companies that could buy land (Monsanto, Dole, BASF, etc.) and these companies truly could care less about the health of the people that they are growing food for.

I knew I had to do something about this and my original mission got started – To create 1,000,000 acres or new, organic, sustainable produce farmland that young farmers could rent from my future company at prices that were more affordable than buying land. I was inspired and wanted to make this happen. So I started looking at states in the country were land was affordable and ended up taking a positively fateful trip to Boise, ID in August 2015. I fell in love with Boise and made my mind up that this is where I wanted to start my business. Fast-forward to January 2018 and my fiancee and I (we hadn’t even met when I visited Boise for the first-time) moved to Boise .

Along the way my vision has changed, I am still committed to farmers and in a different way as I realized that reversing climate change is where my true passion lies and I am also using my skills in restoring the health of the soil and creating farms to create community gardens, build gardens for homeowners and teach homeowners how to grow their own food. I am also using my skill in being able to restore the health of the soil and train the soil to pull carbon from the air and store it to build healthy soils – all of which will make a difference in reversing climate change and creating new farmers.

So yes my vision has changed and I am still in the game and starting a business has been scary. I wavered back and forth because I was not sure if I could do it and in November 2018, I finally decided to start Pure Love Sustainability Inc.

Starting my business has been very challenging, I have dealt with so much fear, doubt and negative thoughts about being able to do this (start a business). I honestly thought that people who immediately flock to my big vision and money would come flowing in like water. Well that didn’t happen. Instead I have had to work very hard to find people who care about mi vision and want what I am offering. I have had to use a lot of mental power to become flexible and find out what others want, I have had to put myself out there like I never have before and I have made some mistakes that have kicked me in the butt.

I have had great weeks where I believed that I could make this happen and terrible weeks where I was ready to quit and barley took any action. What I have learned is having the right support system is key. I hired a coach who has helped me to work through so many of my fears and get into action. I have hired a marketing expert to help me tailor my messaging and be able to communicate the services that I offer with people in a clear, effective way and I am starting to see some results four months later. In all truth of the matter it would have been easier to quit, but I also would have been giving up on what matters most to me and that is not worth it.

I don’t think that I would have stuck with my business if I didn’t have the passion, verve, courage and nerve to stick with it and having a vision that I want to accomplish so badly and having something that I want to contribute to the world so badly has made me unwilling to quit. I still don’t have it all figured out and am not yet making thousands of dollars a month and I know that I am on the right track.

If you have a big vision, go for it and start pursuing it. The world needs you and there are fantastic people out there who can help you stay on course and let go of your disempowering conversations that are stopping you. Big dreams, big goals and a big vision make a huge difference.

Where would the world be if Thomas Edison never had the vision of creating a lightbulb, where would the world be if Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone, where would the world be if Elon Musk gave up on Tesla because it was too hard. Have your big vision and keep on referencing it when times get tough. All big visions are crazy anyway and it’s ok to be crazy and have a big vision.