Supplement to “Bugs Alive!”
A good garden starts with good soil. A healthy and balanced soil attracts the right kind of insects, according to Chris Korrow, who ran an organic farm for 15 years before turning back to photography and filmmaking.
“The way to improve your soil is with compost,” Korrow says, “but not the kind you buy in 50-pound bags. That is mostly wood chips. The Cadillac of fertilizers is cow manure. If you can’t get cow manure from a farmer, make your own fertilizer. Use scraps from the kitchen—anything that is non-animal—mixed with grass clippings. You can even throw in a few leaves.” (Animal scraps will attract rats, raccoons, and other vermin.)
Be careful with fertilizer also.
“Too much nitrogen is the problem most people have,” Korrow says. “The excess nitrogen has nowhere to go. The garden will look green and lush in the first year, but since the plants are not balanced, they are actually overgrowing. That opens them up for attack from insects. For plants to be healthy, they have to work to get their nutrients. This builds up their stamina and they put down the right roots.
“The best way to fertilize is to mimic nature. In the woods, leaves fall. In the bottom land, rivers flood their banks. In the field, animals graze and drop manure. Millions of insects eat other insects and leave their droppings.”
The point is balance, Korrow says.
“Balance is the key for everything,” he says, for plants, for societies. Fifty percent of our population will get some kind of cancer. One-third of children will get diabetes. Those facts alone tell us we are living in a system that is out of balance.
“How we thrive and come to find peace and prosperity is through balance. When we can quiet our minds and arrive at a place where the mind has no direction, no goals and no judgments, then we can see things for what they are. That’s when knowledge comes from nature. This is what nature can teach us, if only we can take the initiative to intimately connect with it, at least on occasion.”
To read the Kentucky Living March 2008 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Bugs Alive!