Last Friday the Garden Leadership class went on a field trip to the Light House Bakery. We got to see their old hand constructed ovens, get a tour of their garden, help around their establishment, and enjoy a delicious lunch as a gift for the work we did. We learned many things and had a lot of fun getting to experience their culture.
On the tour we got to walk around their compound and learn some of their techniques for growing and sustaining life on their land. One thing that really stood out to me was some of the experiments they were doing to promote a connection throughout their large network of trees which are dispersed throughout the area. To do this, they infused hay bales with nutrients and mushrooms. Why did they do this? Well, mushrooms have been found to create huge networks of roots. These networks are used for more than just taking nutrients out of the soil, they are used to put nutrients back into the soil and also to connect and communicate between plants. Not only do the mushrooms connect with each other, but other plants are integrated in the link. This is why the Light house has utilized them. It is believed that in future years, the land will be linked together in a cohesive community of not only trees and garden vegetables, but some weeds as well.
Another thing they discussed was the use of some plants, (which we typically call weeds) to grow as companions with the plants you wish to grow. They use them as a way of keeping more invasive plants out of the area. For example, dandelions are allowed to grow cohesively with the plants they put into the soil in order to keep out any weeds that would be too invasive. It allows the plants you want to be there not to get choked out. They have actually seen some good results with this experiment as it has promoted healthier plants that don’t have to fight so hard for their place in the world.
In addition to these, there was another tid bit that stood out above the rest. During our tour, we came upon a tree which had one of it’s main limbs beginning to corrode and die because of disease. The limb accounted for most of the tree’s established growth. In an effort to save the tree, what they did was begin growing a smaller tree near it. Once the tree grew tall enough, they cut the top off and grafted it’s end into the diseased limb. As the younger tree matures, it will become the limb’s support and actually sustain the growth and stability of the older tree.
Our time at Light house was in-Lightening to say the least. *Laughs at self* See what I did there? *Pats self on back* All joking aside, we learned a lot during our time there and it will be really cool to do a follow up in the next few years to see how well these experiments have paid off. One thing is for sure, what we learned there is valuable for any gardener to know.