Regenerative gardening is not just about “fixing” the soil, it’s a complete mindset. Rather than trying to dominate or fight Nature, I believe we need to have a different way of thinking. If Nature seems to be “getting in your way”, if you don’t have the right mindset, you could be missing out on an opportunity to help her flourish.
In today’s podcast I share some learnings I have been having with a garden that is overrun by pests, and how I am choosing to think to align with Nature.
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Episode 26: The Regenerative Garden Mindset
Hello there, Thrivers! It’s Hayley Weatherburn here and welcome to this week’s episode. Today I want to discuss with you — well, one sided discussion — hopefully I trigger and provoke thoughts in you. Please feel free to come over to ThrivingWithNature.com and comment on the show notes. I love hearing from your points of views.
So this week, I want to talk with you about The Regenerative Garden Mindset. And I think it’s really more The Regenerative Gardeners Mindset because in my opinion, I feel there’s a different mindset you have when approaching being a caretaker of your vegetable garden, of nature. So I’ve got a couple of points I want to talk about.
The first is: Nature knows best. Observe. We all know nature moves forward in a natural succession towards abundance. It’s constantly thriving. If you walk away, if we do nothing, nature will continually ride this what I call ‘the force of nature’ to abundance. It heals its soil by growing certain things to attract certain microbes to balance out the soil. Then it’ll move into succession into a more abundant stage and so and so forth. It knows what its doing and sometimes, us humans, we’ve called things ‘weed’, we’ve got to get rid of that… We don’t want that… Look at these pests, they’re in the way, we need to get rid of them cause our garden’s not working…
Nature is, in my opinion, always right. And what I’m is to just really observe and listen in a sense to what is she telling you. Not to rush and try to fix things but to see why — in one of my gardens I’ve got more weeds on one side of the garden than the other. I’m like “Why is that happening? What’s going on on one side that’s causing it not to have any weeds, and then on the other side to have a plethora of weeds?” What’s happening? I noticed something, that there was more sun on one side. But I also noticed soil that I’ve built through different compost and manures and things like that. Potentially, there might have been an imbalance in something on one of the sides. So I’m really curious as to what she was doing. She as in nature, I call her she. So I like to think that what she’s doing when nature is growing these weeds, there’s something missing in the soil. There’s microbes that are missing to become more flourishing. It’s not covered so the weeds are growing too quickly cover it, those different aspects. And as I’m discussing with you I feel that there’s more sun on the other side, I didn’t get a chance in this particular garden to cover the soil cause I didn’t have the organic resources that I wanted to put on there. So the side that didn’t get as much sun didn’t feel the need to grow the weeds, and the other side did.
So that’s my current hypothesis. Do I know if it’s correct or not? I don’t. But as you learn, that’s why people have been gardening for years. You can learn all the theory but until you’re actually in the garden watching what she’s doing will you start to understand.
So that first mindset is “Nature knows best, just observe and listen.” And that align with “Don’t fight nature.” Don’t try and dominate nature, we are the caretakers. Nature will always go in the way she wants to go and if we’re trying to force her to go another way, we will inevitably lose. And that’s what we’re finding out there in mono crops and degradative agriculture methods. We’re trying to kill off weeds and fungi and things when they’re actually a vital part to growing healthy fruits and vegetables.
We end up killing her, because we’re fighting nature. We don’t want weeds, we only want to grow one thing. Nature does not grow one thing, it’s biodiversity. Show me a patch of natural grown nature where it’s only got one plant or one species of insects that hang around there. It is a biodiversity, it is a very simple but complex system. And if we try to simplify it to the mono crops style, she’s gonna fight then. She’s gonna try and come back. Us trying to fight that, we’ve seen it. We have less than 60 years of top soil left because of the degradative methods. Because we were trying to fight nature, and dominate her. She will always win.
Another thing is pests. So this is another thing that we were fighting. When you go mono crop — so this is my understanding of what happens. When you try and do a mono crop of something, nature’s always trying to go “Well this isn’t going to work, we need an abundance. We need more different vegetation to attract the different biodiverse microbes that’ll attract the different insects so we can get back to that balance.” When you aren’t in balance and you’re on your way to balance, there will be a counteractive thing that will happen to try and get you back there.
The best documentary I’ve ever heard is called “The Biggest Little Farm” or heard or watched, I’ve seen it 5 times so far. It’s this: Over the 8 years time, they had different moments of different “pests” and I’m doing air quotes for those. Different “pests” that overruled them sometimes, at one stage it was snails, at one stage they were tiny little insects in the garden, at one stage there was too many flies… And nature, once you listen to what’s happening and you understand what nature’s trying to fix or where you’ve gone out of balance… In the case of the flies, they had a lot of cows and cow manure which attracted a lot of flies. But what they found was after the cow rotated in one area, and they brought the chickens in. The chickens would eat all the maggots in the manure, and it reduced the flies to a more manageable level. Same with the snails, the ducks actually lost their pond cause it went out of balance because of not as much rain. The ducks were shown where the snails were and all of a sudden the ducks were back happy and in balance cause they were eating 80,000 snails a day or something ridiculous. That’s the normal balance. Ducks needed something to eat and the snails needed to be eaten.
When you’re seeing a pest in your garden, The Regenerative Gardener’s mindset is not to get rid of the pest. In a long term sense, what you’re trying to do is “How do I find balance with this pest? What is nature trying to fix?” So right at the moment I have one of my gardens beds is rife with grasshoppers and white flies. And it’s completely really damaging. And then there’s another pest that I don’t recognize, it’s these little white larvae things that the ant seem to like and they cause a blackness on my corn. And so if I were to have a different mindset and not The Regenerative Gardeners Mindset, I would maybe want to dominate. I’ve asked for ideas and yes, I can help by cleaning off these pests, there’s natural ways of using neem oil and a bit of sort of organic natural detergent to clean off the white flies from the tomatoes and they’ve gone across onto the eggplants now, and there’s grasshoppers that have overeaten my red spinach… I could have gotten some, even organic — Even organic doesn’t mean regenerative. I could get some organic sprays and spray them off and clean them off. And that is a potential method if it gets to a certain stage, sure. And if you don’t have the ability to balance out, maybe it is the only option you have to help that mini microcosm in that little veggie garden.
But what my mindset is right now is: Okay, I have so many white flies, I have lots of grasshoppers. I need ladybugs and I need praying mantises. I know those insects are the ones that are predators for those. So what attracts those insects? Now I’m researching what attracts the ladybugs and all the positive predatory insects? And what they’ll attract is more birds, which would be lovely. But in my mind at the moment, I believe that will help balance out what’s going on. And another thing, another hypothesis is sometimes insects will pick a plant that isn’t healthy and attack it. And so I feel potentially that there is an imbalance in my soil somewhere. That because I’ve created it, it wasn’t created by nature. I’ve created sort of the mix, maybe I went a little bit out of balance and now it’s caused some issues with some of the vegetables that are growing.
So rather than try and counterbalance and measure the things, what I’m going to keep doing is bringing those other plants that can help attract these other insects that will help balance it out. And then also add some more compost and then cover the soil — this particular garden, I didn’t have the stuff that I wanted to cover with — and then see what happens. And sit back and observe what nature does.
As humans, I believe we’re caretakers of this planet. And we can help accelerate the abundance that nature is when you align yourself. When you know what she’s trying to do, you can assist her. Because it can take millions of years for something to come into abundance.
That’s a gecko sound that you’ve just heard. In Bali, they believe that when a gecko clicks like that, whatever you’re thinking or saying is the truth. So there you go, we’ve heard it from mother nature herself that we can help support her growth into natural succession.
Some questions you can ask yourself to bring yourself back to The Regenerative Garden Mindset is “How can I help nature flourish right now?” and then “What is she trying to do? Why are there so many insects?”, “Why is this not growing? Why are weeds growing?”… What is nature trying to do? We already know her end goal. She’s trying to make that garden flourish and be abundant. Try and fix the soil, she’s trying to do that. How can I support nature?
And always to be open and learning. It doesn’t matter how many years — I’ve heard many and manier amazing gardeners who have been doing it for 10, 20, 30, 40 years and even they say “I’m still learning.” Nature has a simple idea of moving from not flourishing to flourishing, that’s the natural thing. It’s simple but it moves into complexity. From one microbe to many, it’s naturally moving that way. So there is a lot to learn but it’s simply just being open to understanding that there’s many different levels and layers to this and just, “What is she trying to do? What’s trying to happen in the soil?” I’m going to try and balance that with the methods I’ve told you before, that different plants attract different insects, and see what happens and sit back and observe.
I think where we can get in a rush is… Right now this vegetable garden hasn’t produced much. So far, I’ve got one cucumber, I’ve eaten some of the red lettuce, I do have a Brazilian spinach that’s still doing quite well in there, the capsicums are growing but I’m not sure if they’re gonna be affected by these insects so I’d like to move reasonably quickly on the covering and the compost. That’s another thing that I’m doing, building a proper compost tea so that I can start to introduce more beneficial microbes into that soil.
So there’s a few things I know I can do to help this particular situation but what I was saying was, if I had this rush and urge to get a plethora of abundance of vegetables from it now, then I would try and be forcing it to do what I wanted it to do. Whereas, what I’m here to learn is, I want to be able to create a balanced vegetable garden that will flourish and will the most divine organic deliciously tasting highly nutritious vegetables. But to do that, I need to align with nature and right now I’m out of balance.
So there you go, that’s what I like to call The Regenerative Garden Mindset. I’m still learning what that mindset is and yeah, and I’d love to hear from you. What other things you feel, as a regenerative gardener, that you’ve put into place in your mind to help align with the force of nature so that we can help regenerate her on all levels, even in your vegetable box. I have a vegetable box, I do have another garden that is connected to the soil. I’d really love to hear from you, make sure you go to ThrivingWithNature.com or click the link show notes and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you so much for listening and let’s do this together, let’s thrive with nature!