Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Farm & Garden’s Success Starts with Soil

Ask any organic farmer or gardener the key to growing healthy crops and they will reply with some variant of the phrase: “Start with the soil.” Abundant, healthy crops are truly an outgrowth of vibrant soil ecology; with the exception of oxygen and carbon (which plants absorb from the air), plants uptake all of the nutrients they need to build stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits from the soil through their root systems. In order for plants to thrive, it is essential that they have access to all the requisite building blocks for their development, such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Trillions of microorganisms live in every handful of healthy soil, and these microorganisms effectively “store” nutrients in their bodies until they die, at which time those nutrients become available for the plants in their subterranean neighborhood.

Without a thriving community of microbes, nutrients gradually leech from the soil into surrounding waterways and plants have less and less of a nutrient stockpile from which to draw upon. Soil that is deluged with chemical pesticides and fertilizers loses its rich microbial ecology and quickly becomes barren, unable to support plant growth without the use of ever-greater applications of pesticides and fertilizers.

Organic growers can track the health of their fields over time through regular Soil Analysis Reports. Every Spring, the Esalen Farm & Garden sends soil samples of each of our dozen or so fields and gardens to A&L Western Agricultural Laboratories, one of several companies in the U.S. specializing in soil analysis. Each report is a snapshot of soil health and allows us to better understand the impacts of changes and experiments in our growing methods (for example, adjustments in our compost application rates or the recent use of sulfur-rich hot springs water on much of the main garden). Soil reports can help a grower identify potential toxins (particularly important in urban agriculture), determine soil pH (key to the “availability” of soil nutrients), and understand the relative abundance of key nutrients.

Perhaps the most important statistic offered by a soil test is the percentage of organic matter (essentially a measure of a soil’s “alive-ness”). The fertile prairie soils of what were once the Great Plains and today constitute the nation’s corn and soybean belt, considered to be the world’s finest farm land, typically range from 5-10% organic matter. Esalen’s gardens and fields register organic matter readings of 10-15%. This extraordinary measure of the Farm & Garden’s fertility is a result two factors: Esalen was “dealt a good hand” with its sandy-loam soils, comprised of just the right mix of small (clay), medium (silt), and large (sand) soil particles; and generations of Esalen growers have honored this gift of fertile land through their deliberate care and faithful stewardship.

This article was featured in the Autumn 2015 Esalen Sustainability News.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Farm & Garden’s Success Starts with Soil

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Ask any organic farmer or gardener the key to growing healthy crops and they will reply with some variant of the phrase: “Start with the soil.” Abundant, healthy crops are truly an outgrowth of vibrant soil ecology; with the exception of oxygen and carbon (which plants absorb from the air), plants uptake all of the nutrients they need to build stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits from the soil through their root systems. In order for plants to thrive, it is essential that they have access to all the requisite building blocks for their development, such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Trillions of microorganisms live in every handful of healthy soil, and these microorganisms effectively “store” nutrients in their bodies until they die, at which time those nutrients become available for the plants in their subterranean neighborhood.

Without a thriving community of microbes, nutrients gradually leech from the soil into surrounding waterways and plants have less and less of a nutrient stockpile from which to draw upon. Soil that is deluged with chemical pesticides and fertilizers loses its rich microbial ecology and quickly becomes barren, unable to support plant growth without the use of ever-greater applications of pesticides and fertilizers.

Organic growers can track the health of their fields over time through regular Soil Analysis Reports. Every Spring, the Esalen Farm & Garden sends soil samples of each of our dozen or so fields and gardens to A&L Western Agricultural Laboratories, one of several companies in the U.S. specializing in soil analysis. Each report is a snapshot of soil health and allows us to better understand the impacts of changes and experiments in our growing methods (for example, adjustments in our compost application rates or the recent use of sulfur-rich hot springs water on much of the main garden). Soil reports can help a grower identify potential toxins (particularly important in urban agriculture), determine soil pH (key to the “availability” of soil nutrients), and understand the relative abundance of key nutrients.

Perhaps the most important statistic offered by a soil test is the percentage of organic matter (essentially a measure of a soil’s “alive-ness”). The fertile prairie soils of what were once the Great Plains and today constitute the nation’s corn and soybean belt, considered to be the world’s finest farm land, typically range from 5-10% organic matter. Esalen’s gardens and fields register organic matter readings of 10-15%. This extraordinary measure of the Farm & Garden’s fertility is a result two factors: Esalen was “dealt a good hand” with its sandy-loam soils, comprised of just the right mix of small (clay), medium (silt), and large (sand) soil particles; and generations of Esalen growers have honored this gift of fertile land through their deliberate care and faithful stewardship.

This article was featured in the Autumn 2015 Esalen Sustainability News.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Farm & Garden’s Success Starts with Soil

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About

Esalen Team

Farm & Garden’s Success Starts with Soil

About

Esalen Team

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