Ten Principles of Highly Effective Gardeners

As regenerative gardeners we know the destructive power of the rototiller. Even a rudimentary understanding of what happens below our feet will make us shun any form of aggressive soil disturbance.

Soil is a complex, living, breathing superorganism, and breaking relationships between members of the soil food web results in disharmony with all the dreadful side-effects such as shallow root penetration, weakened plant immunity, disease and loss of plant vigour.

Still, I’m unhappy with the term “no-till growing” because it only says what we’re not supposed to do in the garden; it doesn’t tell us what we ought to be doing. If we shouldn’t be tilling and digging, what positive actions should we be taking in our garden?

Our 2022 gardening course gives gardeners ten action items in the form of guiding principles for improving soil fertility to grow better food with less effort.

Swiss chard

For example, take principle number one: cover the ground with organic matter.

Our aim here is to armour the earth and offer soil protection from environmental factors such as cold, wind, rain or drought. Mulching also provides soil organisms with minerals and nutrients and a home.

After even one year of mulching, you’ll notice improved tilth as you build life-enriching humus. Soil comes to life when we mimic the natural layering we find in every undisturbed ecosystem. It’s something all great gardeners practice.

Other gardening principles we discuss revolve around the importance of covering the ground with living plants, succession planting and designing our growing space for convenience. No gardening principle stands alone. They’re interconnected and holistically support one another so that in satisfying one, we’re usually supporting two or three others.

Plant nurturing

I’d like to call the course, “The Ten Principles of Highly Effective Gardeners.” This title presents to us a gardening system that empowers the grower. We want gardeners in our learning community to take charge and transform their growing space into a beautiful, abundant, edible landscape. We expect them to look to nature’s design for direction and inspiration. Confidence comes with success and following these gardening principles will lead towards greatness in the garden.

Development of course content for 2022 has already begun and our first videos are being released this month. New content will be released in a timely fashion as we journey through the calendar year. We’re putting the finishing touches on our interactive forum and hope to open it before Christmas. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, share information and support other growers. Regular webinars will allow us to better connect with growers to answer questions and offer advice or give mini-lectures.

We look forward to connecting with you and growing together.

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Andrew Couzens is a software engineer turned soil scientist.

A life long sufferer with inflammatory bowel disease, he was motivated to enter the agricultural space in an effort to “be the change” he believed was necessary to heal his own body.

Healthy plants come from healthy soil, and healthy soil comes from working with nature, not against it.

Leveraging his knowledge and experience in software engineering, he started Terra Flora Organics with a goal of helping conventional growers move from unsustainable practices that destroy soil and negatively affect the health of people and the planet, to regenerative practices that allow intensive farming whilst building soil and healing our minds and our bodies.

Andrew Couzens