Favourite Websites

“Accessible education in Organic Land Care.” In my opinion, you will learn more in even their shortest courses than you would studying horticulture in college or university. Actually, it’s not just my opinion, because post-secondary grads have taken the courses and said that. I now teach some of their courses, but several years before I started teaching, I took a course and it was a life-changing experience.

Hundreds of classic books online for free (they ask for an optional one-time donation of about $15, which is well worth it).

Okay, I now have a few links for soil testing instead of just one. I have generally used International Ag Labs, but I came across some others that are also good. Below are a few of the labs doing the kind of tests that I believe are most useful, based on the ideas of Albrecht and Reams. They’re generally in the US, but it’s worth shipping there. It generally costs around $50, plus about $20 to ship.
International Ag Labs – Mainly following Reams, but they also do CEC (run by Dan Skow, co-author of Mainline Farming for Century 21). Note, effective March 1st, 2013, this lab will no longer accept soil samples from outside the US. The two labs listed below still do, though:
Crop Services International – Albrecht and Reams and other energetic philosophies (run by Phil Wheeler, co-author of The Non-Toxic Farming Handbook)
Kinsey’s Agricultural Services – Mainly following Albrecht (run by Neil Kinsey, co-author of Hands-On Agronomy)

Permaculture BC is an education and design company focused on retention, inspiration and application. Connecting students to experienced instructors and practitioners, Permaculture BC presents leading edge information resulting in skilled empowered practitioners. If you’re looking to learn about permaculture, food forestry, nutition based living, grafting, pruning, propagation, energy generation or bio mimicry beekeeping, this is the place to start!

People to Know, Places to Go

Lush Eco Lawns – Lawn and Garden Care, based in Duncan, BC – proud users of Organic Gardener’s Pantry products! Go ahead – take off your shoes.

Pamela Greenthumbs – Tender loving garden services in and around beautiful Victoria, BC. Coaching and caring for the environment, the organic way!

Top Ten Books

There are hundreds of great books on horticulture. Acres USA carries many of them. If I had to narrow it down to my favourites, these would all be up there:

  1. Working With Nature – Heide Hermary
  2. Secrets of the Soil – Peter Tompkins and Chris Bird
  3. The Secret Life of Plants – Peter Tompkins and Chris Bird
  4. Science in Agriculture – Arden Andersen
  5. Non-Toxic Farming Handbook – Philip Wheeler and Ron Ward
  6. Soil Biology Primer – Soil and Water Conservation Society
  7. The One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka
  8. Weeds, Control Without Poisons – Charles Walters
  9. Sea Energy Agriculture – Maynard Murray
  10. Gaia’s Garden – Toby Hemenway

EM Research/Resources

Database with over 500 research papers


Mycorrhizae Research/Resources

Many great articles on mycorrhizal fungi

Note that this is from a commercial source, but they are also leaders in research and they have the highest-rated inoculant in the industry.

Searchable database of many scientific studies on mycorrhizal fungi

This is quite a collection of papers. Use the search function to find what you’re looking for.

Compost Tea Resources/Research

The Soil Food Web Approach

Elaine Ingham of the Soil Food Web is a microbiologist and a leading researcher on compost and compost tea. She can be reached through Rodale Institute. The Canadian Soil Food Web lab is also listed above: http://soilfoodweb.ca

The Compost Tea Brewing Manual. Elaine Ingham. Available from Soil Food Web (out of print 2011).

Teeming With Microbes. Jeff Lowenfels. Available from Amazon.

Sea Minerals Resources


Independent research trials with sea-crop.


Sea Energy Agriculture. Maynard Murray. Available from Acres USA.

Fertility From the Deep. Charles Walters. Available from Acres USA.

Liquid Kelp Fertilizer Resources

Study on liquid kelp foliar applications (pdf)

This article was free when I initially looked at it, but now it seems to be for sale.
Summary: “The plant growth, developmental and N nutritional responses in this greenhouse experiment have demonstrated the effectiveness of two kelp, M. integrifolia and E. maxima, foliar sprays as plant growth regulating substances.”
Also interesting: “Low dilution ratios (1:100 kelp concentrate:water) were found to have an inhibitory effect upon root growth, whereas higher dilution ratios (1:400 to 1:600) were stimulatory.” This (and other parts of the study) shows that following the product directions and using the seemingly small amount of kelp:water is better than applying less diluted mixtures (less water). The same holds true for other products. More is not better.

Study on kelp soil applications (pdf)

This article was free when I initially looked at it, but now it seems to be for sale.
Summary: Applications of kelp up to 60 tons per hectare (1/2 ton per 1000 sq ft) increased plant growth, but 120 tons inhibited plant growth, probably due to excess salt. I’m not sure what 1/2 ton per 1000 sq ft translates to in yards, but it looks like you can apply too much kelp for certain crops.

Food Power from the Sea. Lee Fryer and Dick Simmons. Available from Acres USA.

Seaweed & Plant Growth. T.L. Senn. Available from Acres USA.

Seaweed in Agriculture & Horticulture. W.A. Stephenson. Available from Acres USA.

Liquid Fish Fertilizer Resources

Food Power from the Sea. Lee Fryer and Dick Simmons. Available from Acres USA.

Humic Acids Resources

Comprehensive site on humic acids

This is great if you have a few hours to spend on reading about humic acids.

Summary on benefits of humic acids (pdf)

Has some product info, but is still a nice, concise summary of various research over the last 50 years.

Blackstrap Molasses Resources

Molasses as microbial stimulant (and ant control?)

One container was given only tap water; the other was given equal water with two tablespoons of molasses per gallon stirred in. After 8 weeks, the molasses watered plants were almost twice the size of the plants in the other container.
…I dissolved 4 tablespoons of molasses in each gallon of water and sprayed along the drip pipe. By the next day, the fire ants had moved out four feet in each direction. We were able to graft the vines without a single ant bothering us.


Molasses and whey mixture cleans contaminated soils

This company injected cheese whey, then molasses and then a mixture of both into the ground, finding the right ratios through trial and error. Supplied with a plentiful and evidently ideal source of food, the bacteria multiplied. As time went on, however, the cheese whey and molasses ran out, leaving a now-expanded population of microbes in search of something else to eat. While solvents and the other pollutants are not the food of choice, the microbes will eat them. “We have had contaminant concentrations that have decreased 99 percent or more over the last year with the cheese-whey solution.”

Molasses helps control pathogenic nematodes (pdf)

In a papaya plantation on Maui where high and damaging populations of reniform nematodes had caused a reduction in fruit yield and quality, the molasses applications lowered nematode soil populations and resulted in marked improvement in the tree growth and harvestable fruit. When applied to Chinese cabbage, the numbers of Herodera nematode cysts decreased following harvest. Preplant applications of molasses to onions improved plant color and onion yield although no difference in soil nematode populations or in cyst number was observed.

The Non-Toxic Farming Handbook. Phil Wheeler and Ron Ward. Available from Acres USA.