Limestone is for carrots

"Dearest Good and Hopeful Gardeners of the Limestone regions of Guelph and environs!

 One of our strongest dreams is to help one another to succeed in the smaller dreams we all have --like growing and eating fresh carrots --and to do so with a massive reduction in plastic use, cost, corporate dependency bullshit, and anxiety. There are ways to do everything.... secret small lovely local ways that cost us nothing... but they are not visible because corporate giants like Nestleand Monsanto and Costco have sort of gotten up in our faces and we can't see the ways that we are, and can be, in harmony and flow with where we already are, and do all the small lovely things we want to do --and really well --without having to take a gas-powered drive in our minivan to Canadian Tire for a plastic bag full of plastic shizzle to get that result.

 Shorthand: learn to be where we already are and use with wisdom what we already have.

 Carrots. Carrots love lots of things. They actually do. They are notoriously friendly in the vegetable world. One thing they love is calcium. (Just like you, Missy Human with your strong, long bones-of-white!). If you are a newbie urban gardener with a small raised bed or you are an old crusty farm-hand, you might know, or have learned from your desperate Google searches, that "carrots like a sweet soil." What the hell does that mean? Candy? Honey? Pouring brown sugar onto the seeds? Have I got "savory soil"? Confusion reigns.

 It's pretty simple. Has to do with pH. (Don't confuse this with needing a PhD, which is just not true no matter what OAC says!)

It's soil chemistry. All soil has a chemistry.  Whatever you try to grow plants in: sand, potting soil, African violet soil, clay, your front lawn. Everything. One aspect of that soil chemistry is the pH. Do you remember: Water is neutral. They give that a number: 7.0. Soils can be neutral too. Lots of plants grow best in water or soil that is pH neutral. Some soils are more acidic. Some soils are more basic ("alkaline"). They get that way from a million years of the plants that grow in them breaking down into molecules... and also from the rocks that break down into minerals that then make up the soil in that spot. And also from what is in the air, that gets rainedand snowed down into that soil. It's very beautiful, isn't it?

Some plants grow better in acidic soil. Blueberries need to be mentioned here because we are from the North. But some of you will be happier if you hear that that is true of Rhododendrons.

Some plants grow better in alkaline soils. Carrots happen to be one of those.

So there you are, at the Stephanie Drive Community Garden or up in College Heights or way out in the new East end, trying to grow little humble carrots for your dinner plate orpet rabbit named Rosie. "Oh my," you say. "Do I now need to worry about the soil that I have seeded those puny carrot seeds in??!!"Yes and no. The "yes" part is that you'll get better tasting lovely carroty carrots if your soil is a little bit basic. (Isn't that the point? Who doesn't want that? Keep reading)

The "no" part is that, hearing us tell you that about carrots and pH does NOT mean you now have to get in that minivan and drive to Home Hardware or Royal City Nursery or The Home Despot for a Pearlite shaker can (also plastic, 6.99$) of "liming conditioner" and then try to figure out how much to mix in and when, and oh boy what an unfun time it is now to be an avid carrot grower! You veer close to giving up and buying a bag at No Frills.


 You, dear dear human gardening person, with calcium in the bones and teeth, live on a million-year old limestone aquaducts, dolomitic layered into fabulous slabs of pale grey-white carveable rock out of which all those swanky gorgeous downtown buildings like the Albion were made. Whooweee.

 So take a deep breath and go to the kitchen to make yourself a cup of tea. Or coffee with your Nestecafe rig. Fill that kettle with beautiful tasty potable HARD water from the Arkell springs. Hard water, hey? Jeepers it's hard on the pipes. And look at that CALCIUM BUILD-UP in your reliable little kettle. Hmmmmmm. Time to get in the minivan and drive to Walmart and buy some "Kettle Descaling Solution" (8.99$ at Walmart or 12.99 if you have a Keurig) in that plastic throw-out-y bottle? Or maybe you can get a whole "Descaling Kit" and do the toilet too (83.002$ from Wayfair and comes with gloves and a plastic scraper?).


 Get out a spoon and start scraping. Scrape it down from the sides. Poke at those holes thatare covered over with white hard lime. Scrape scrape scrape. Look at those white flakes and powder swirl down into the water.

Put your hands right into it, and with your opposable thumb and index finger, squish the chunks. They are soft! They break down into soft clay-like powder that makes the kettle water milky. Keep scraping and squishing.

Friends: you have just cleaned your kettle. DIY high five!

Friends: now go outside, with said kettle in hand, and water your goddamned little carrot patch.

Friends: you have just "sweetened" your soil. Whoot whoot.

Friends of the earth: It has not involved plastic or driving your car or going on the internet for the 78th time in a day.

Friends of the Carrot World: They are now happy as hell and, so will you be, and your human bones, when you eat them. They will be SWEET. And all that beautiful calcium that you offered them as a gift from the Arkell springs, from the ancient limestone ocean floor of the Jurassic epoch, will be absorbed through your miraculous stomach and guts and find its way to your bones. The bones of your children. Then, when we humans turn into compost, there it all goes back into the good bones of the Earth. Sweetness. Maybe that is what "sweetening the soil" means. I think the ancestors are laughing at us for taking so long to figure it out. We love you, Earth. We are a part of you. We always have been and will always be. (We just forget sometimes, how much)

Signed, The Art of Soil Collective.

PS See how you didn't need to get in your minivan and drive to Rexall or Shoppers Drug Mart to buy calcium supplements? (Centrum 18.99$ in plastic useless bottle, or Tums chewables (2.99$ taste like shit) or the "natural" kind from AlgaeCal for 89.99$, also in bad bottle that will gostraight to the landfill).


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