Vintage Gardening

Amberland Farm was founded on the principal of encouraging nature instead of controling it.  If we fight with nature, we will lose every time.  Modern (last 100 years) gardening practices are based on man trying to control and improve upon eons of complex and inter-related natural processes.

Encourage -Yes... Improve - No

Chemical fertilizers are a by-product of the petroleum industry which had a surplus of raw materials that had been used to manufacture poisons during two World Wars.  What is now called 'organic gardening' is really a time tested age old method of gardening practices that cooperate with nature's cycles and processes.

We encourage nature by balancing soil nutrients.
— Farmer Andy

We can encourage nature by paying attention to and fine tuning these details:

Soil type, temperature, aeration, worms, organic matter, micro-nutrients, fungal hyphae, nematodes, degree-days, symbiotic relationships, beneficial predators, micro-climates, carbon/nitrogen ratio, bees, compost, mulch, green manure, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, etc.  

Feed the Soil-Not the Plants.

Soil care is the basis of the natural  approach to gardening.  If you gathered up a double handful of biologically "alive" garden soil, it would contain more microorganisms than people on earth.  The organic gardener thinks like a steward rather than a master.  The garden steward returns to the soil at least as much as he removes.  The master uses chemicals to feed the plants but poisons the soil.

Perhaps you've seen "greenhouse tomatoes" in the grocery store.  They are most likely to be hydroponically grown.  The roots are supported in sand or gravel while a controlled nutrient solution provides the plants with fertility requirements - there is no soil and the tomato has no flavor.

In the name of more, better, and faster, most modern agricultural fields and suburban landscapes have become examples of "open field hydroponics."  The increasingly lifeless soil is simply used as a structure to support the roots.  Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have replaced the millions of years of self-sustaining soil biology.  Some farmers have compared the "quick fix" of chemical applications to cocaine addiction.  It doesn't take long before the plants become "hooked."  The results can look impressive but self-sustaining soil biology suffers dramatically.  Once the cycle has begun, it's difficult to stop. 

Gardening is an ever changing craft. It is never fully done.  Things can be attended to year round on a weekly or even daily basis.  The goal is to cooperate with and encourage nature while producing nutritious and flavorful food.  It's the new old fashioned way to get back to the future.