"This kind of farming is called veganic, stockfree, vegan organic, or plant-based farming. No synthetic chemicals are used, like pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizer. GMOs, or growth regulators... But veganic farming also does not use animal manure or any slaughterhouse by-products, including blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, or fish emulsion.|
"These slaughterhouse by-products are cheap, easily available, and overwhelmingly abundant, due to the continual killing and rendering of billions of animals in the country's CAFOs. But, apart from the horrible suffering of these animals, their rendered parts and fecal matter contain the residue of steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, as well as disease-causing intestinal and parasitic bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. E. coli, for example, can be transferred to crops through the use of manure as fertilizer, which has led to E. coli outbreaks in humans who eat the contaminated vegetables.
"This leads to some disturbing realizations about organic produce" (Andersen, 147).
"Earthworks uses vegetable compost... it takes less time and it's a lot easier to manage" (Andersen, 146).
"Instead of slaughterhouse by-products, veganic farmers use "green manure," or plant compost, as fertilizer, as well as mulch, chipped branch wood, ground-up rock powders, and other techniques like crop rotation. Biological pest control, such as beetle banks, is used instead of chemical pesticides. Beetle banks are strips of land planted with grasses to provide shelter and habitat for helpful birds, animals, and insects. Parasitic wasps, for instance, control the caterpillar population that would otherwise eat the crops...
"... carbon entrapment... [soil] is one of the biggest carbon sinks possible... the only way to build organic material long-term is through plants. You cannot do it through manure, because manure dissipates into the environment very quickly, it gets broken down. Whereas plants, and the fruits in the ground, will gradually decay and become carbon...
"Veganic agriculture, on top of all these benefits, is also cheaper" (Andersen, 148).
*Veganic Agriculture Network Promoting plant-based farming and gardening throughout North America... The Veganic Agriculture Network includes people from all around North America sharing an interest in veganic ways of growing food.
This is a form of agriculture that goes further than organic standards, by eliminating the use of products that are derived from confined animals and by encouraging the presence of wild native animals on the farmland.
One Degree Organics cereals, bread, flour, and seeds. One Degree Organics is devoted to bringing simplicity, sustainability, transparency and consumer empowerment to our food chain. They start with simple ingredients from family farmers who are devoted to the earth.
REAL: Responsible Eating and Living What Vegans Eat
Veganically Grown VeganicallyGrown.com is an educational website by Sunizona Family Farms, a veganic certified organic family farm in Willcox, Arizona.
Roxarsone (arsenic product) excreted in chicken litter contaminates land and groundwater after the manure is spread on cropland; and the large amounts of poultry litter made into fertilizer pellets for home gardens and lawns contaminate homegrown produce with arsenic and expose the consumer to arsenic dust. (CHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING NEWS APRIL 9, 2007 VOLUME 85, NUMBER 15 PP. 34-35).
Recent studies show that more than 70% of the arsenic in uncovered piles of poultry litter can be dissolved by rainfall and potentially leach into lakes or streams.
Many organic producers use poultry litter - fresh, composted, or as pellets - as a fertilizer and a source of organic matter. Much of this litter comes from commercial broiler operations, which use arsenic as a feed additive to control parasites and increase weight gain. Most of this arsenic does not accumulate in the poultry meat, but is excreted by the birds. As a result, almost 90% of the arsenic fed to poultry ends up in the litter. Because this heavy metal has the potential to build up in the soil, cause health problems for farm workers and produce consumers, and be transported to adjacent lakes or streams.
Barbara C. Bellows
treehugger lots of info
Yes, vegan organic agriculture is possible Given the fact that most organic/sustainable farming relies heavily on animal inputs like manure, I argued, most vegans are still eating animal products when they dig into a carrot... I've since learned of several farmers who are eschewing all forms of animal inputs
Marvelous video about Ian Tolhurst in England. "Living with the land. Pt. 6."
Tolhurst Organic farm is a large-scale veganic growing operation that has been
producing commercial-yield vegetables without any animal inputs for more than a decade.
Vegan Organic Network, UK Vegan organic/stockfree organic broadly means any system of cultivation that excludes artificial chemicals, livestock manures, animal remains from slaughterhouses, genetically modified material and indeed anything of animal origin such as fishmeal.
From large farms to window boxes, we show farmers and home growers how to use vegan organic methods. Our supporters include people of many viewpoints, some involved in growing food, some not, but all united in recognising the need for a fundamental restructuring of food production methods and land use and their importance for human well-being, for animal welfare and biodiversity and in the battle for environmental sustainability.
Why Vegan Organic? summarises some key statistics and information on the case for vegan organic.
Beyond Manure: the Future of Veganic Farming Agribusiness insists that manure is necessary for commercial farming and animal products are essential to our health. It’s a case of the fox, not just minding the hen house, but also trying to teach us something contrary to biology 101 where we learned that only true carnivores require the flesh of animals for health and survival. But what to make of their claim that manure is essential for fertilizing soil? McWilliams points to the veganic farming movement as the signs of a future of farming without animal exploitation.
One Path to Veganic Permaculture Inspiring.
Living Mulch System
Vegan-Organic Gardening good list of veganic fertilizers
Veganic Farming: Can it Save the Vegan Diet from Animal-Based Soil? excellent article
*Growing Green with Iain Tolhurst Green manure/cover crop: Lucerne [deep roots aka alfalfa], clover [nitrogen fixing], grasses. Earthworms. He has 14 acres; two acres in each rotation.
7 year rotation:
1&2. Green manure 2 years
3. Potatoes [require high fertility], then green manure.
4. Brassicas/cabbage family [like fertility, especially nitrogen]. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, winter cabbage.
5. Alliums/onions & leeks. [Brassicas inhibit certain diseases, so alliums come after brassicas]. Grow clover in between the onions.
6. Root vegetables. Carrots, celeriac, parsnips, beets [can grow at lower levels of fertility; very good at opening up the ground--bring up nutrients and water from further down.
7. Squash and sweet corn. Intersown with red clover and lucerne. Relay cropping; next year this green manure will still be here. So we have already started to build fertility.
Weeds: Use mechanical methods, and the rotation is very important. Different crops favor different weeds.
Advantages of the stock-free method:
Optimizing fertility without inputs from outside. This means that there is more land available to raise food.
Increasing biodiversity benefit. The soil structure improves dramatically.
Keeping the ground covered means that the nutrients are being held over.
Not polluting local water sources.
Stockfree Organic Services recommended by Tolhurst video
A growing number of SO growers and farmers are now established in the UK and around the world. SO techniques are tried, proven and economically viable. More and more gardeners are now adopting this sustainable and compassionate way of growing.
Stockfree Organic farming helps the planet in many other ways, such as its much reduced water consumption and more efficient use of land compared to animal farming. Animal wastes pollute the oceans and rivers and create huge health risks; Stockfree Organic farming eliminates this.
Lucerne/Alfalfa Cut three times a year, lucerne produces a protein-rich 14t DM per hectare without nitrogen fertiliser and on dry land.
Why Lucerne? Most forage legumes are best grown in mixtures with grasses as this increases yield. Lucerne (or Alfalfa) is different because it provides a high annual yield of around 14t DM per hectare on its own and without nitrogen fertiliser. It is also drought resistant. Not just a bit either. Once established, the root structure is vast and deep. Ploughing in a lucerne crop is an education in itself. There was once a soil pit dug on a farm in Berkshire going down twenty feet. The roots of an established lucerne crop could be clearly traced all the way down. So this is a legume which can provide reliable high yields irrespective of drought.
Green Manures Clovers increase soil nitrogen levels; grasses produce durable soil structure improvements. Grown together in mixtures, they can improve the yield of subsequent crops
Beetle Banks*Growing Green with Iain Tolhurst wild flowers and herbage to encourage insects, small mammals, birds.
Hedges: Very important to the way he farms. Wlld flowers and grasses [mow once a year] on outside; nettles very important [encourage a lot of predatory insects; home for parasitic wasps]. Also a variety of fruits/berries & nuts; encourages birds [good at controlling insects].
Forest GrowingGrowing up I remember clearly the moment of my conversion. 1991 saw the publication of Forest Gardening – the launch of a new way of growing food. It was the most environmentally sound system you could imagine. A vision of food production that was not just low impact but actively beneficial. The idea was enthralling to an aspiring ecological grower. It gave a new direction for the future. I was instantly seduced. Robert A de J Hart (1913-2000) was inspired by the home gardens of the tropics such as those in Kerala, India, in which a wide variety of food plants grow in a small space, above, below and around each other in an organised tangle, similar to the natural forest that grows nearby. It made perfect sense. Why grow crops in one thin layer spread over the earth’s surface when nature makes use of vertical space right up to the tree canopy? Robert set about developing a system of three dimensional food gardening for the temperate environment. He designed a garden comprising a mixture of edible plants: trees and shrubs with bushes below and a ground layer of perennial or self-seeding plants below these.
Forest Gardening explains that the system is low maintenance because the plants look after each other. In Robert’s own words, the forest garden is, ‘self-perpetuating because almost all the plants are perennial or active self-seeders; self-fertilizing because deep rooting trees and bushes draw on minerals in the subsoil and make them available to their neighbours; self watering because the plants tap the spring-veins in the sub soil and pump water up for the whole system; self-mulching and self weed-suppressing because herbs like mints and balm soon cover all the ground between the trees and create a permanent living mulch; self-pollinating because the trees are selected to be mutually compatible or self-fertile and because the flowering herbs attract pollinating insects; and self-healing because the aromatic herbs deter pests.
Robert saw the garden as an instrument for social change. He had a vision of many small, self-sufficient communities with forest gardens providing for their needs. A diverse diet would increase health, small scale food production would reduce competition for resources, and an ecological approach to growing would reduce problems of soil erosion, biodiversity loss and climate change. ‘The world desperately needs countless millions of trees to counter the greenhouse effect. There’s no reason why the necessary trees should not be fruit trees…. If one could get 100,000 Londoners to plant ten trees in their back gardens that would be a million trees which would be something of a forest.’
Robert’s own garden showed that it could work. Just an eighth of an acre, but containing over seventy species of edible plants, it provided him with fruit, salad and herbs for eight months of the year. He chose proven staples, such as apples and pears in the tree layer, blackcurrants and gooseberries in the bush layer and lemon balm and mints as ground covers.
Most of our food is, of course, produced by agriculture, not grown in home gardens. But forest gardening contains a wealth of inspiration for the innovative farmer – in pest control, soil care and water conservation. A forest garden suffers very little from pests, which do not get the same hold as they do in monocultures. In agricultural systems, the same principles can be used by interplanting and growing a mix of varieties.
I mulched with more cardboard than I’d ever seen, propagated every edible perennial I could get seed for...
Agroforestry great videos.
In Silvoarable systems agricultural or horticultural crops are grown simultaneously with a long-term tree crop to provide annual income while the tree crop matures. Trees are grown in rows with wide alleys in-between for cultivating crops.
Fertility plantings are plantings of trees and/or shrubs with the main aim of improving nutrient input and/or cycling for a forage or alley crop. Nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs are usually used, for example Italian alder, Elaeagnus, Sea buckthorn, and Black locust. Nitrogen fixed by bacteria in association with their roots is made available to other crops via leaf fall, rain drip, root-root contact and beneficial fungi. The amounts made available are in the same order as from perennial legumes.
Italian alder Elaeagnus Sea buckthorn Black locust
Plants for a Future edible perennials.
It is our belief that plants can provide people with the majority of their needs, in a way that cares for the planet's health. A wide range of plants can be grown to produce all our food needs and many other commodities, whilst also providing a diversity of habitats for our native flora and fauna.
There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food. Large areas of land devoted to single crops increase dependence upon intervention of chemicals and intensive control methods with the added threat of chemical resistant insects and new diseases. The changing world climate greatly affecting cultivation indicates a greater diversity is needed.
CardboardCardboard Gardening A couple of years ago, I heard that cardboard made a good foundation for new garden beds, so that fall I grabbed a few recycled boxes, flattened them in the backyard and waited. In spring, when it came time to plant, the cardboard had broken down and I had a lovely new garden bed of rich soil, ready for planting.
what if cardboard is more than just mulch or a weed barrier? What if it’s the key to a whole new approach to gardening—one that lets you spend less and use less while still getting excellent results?
When it comes to composting, you need a lot more brown matter (paper, leaves, sticks, etc.) than green (kitchen scraps). Essentially, you need a ratio of 25 to 1. Cardboard really comes in handy here—it’s a compost pile’s best friend!
Whether you have a compost pile or a bin, cardboard is perfect brown material. Just break it down into manageable pieces and throw it in with the other stuff. As it decomposes, it will add nutrients your plants will love.
These days, the cost of container gardening can really add up. Save money and spend it on plants instead by using cardboard boxes as the containers. Treat them the way you’d treat conventional containers: Fill with soil, make sure you have proper drainage and don’t forget to water.
But will a cardboard container really hold up for an entire season through watering, wind, rain and everything else you and nature throw at it? Along with a few other gardeners around the country, we tested some out, and the answer is—yes!
Cardboard, newspaper and other compostable material is a quick and easy fix for weed problems. In just one growing season, you can reduce weeds by 75 percent or more.
Just place pieces of cardboard around the plants you want to protect. Water immediately to help the cardboard stay in place. (I say this because I’ve been that person chasing runaway cardboard caught by the wind.) You can add soil or mulch on top to reinforce it, too. The cardboard will suppress the weeds and eventually break down into the soil, adding useful organic matter.
The easiest way to start a brand-new garden bed is not with a tiller. Forget sweating behind heavy machinery, and use cardboard instead. That’s how I first discovered the magic.
This method will take a bit longer, but it really is the simplest way to start a bed. Just outline the shape you want on your grass (try using a garden hose to form the template), use edging to keep the grass out, then cover the area with cardboard. Water immediately and top with soil, mulch, leaves or anything you have on hand to hold the cardboard down.
After a few months, you’ll start to see the cardboard breaking down. Underneath, you’ll find fresh garden soil, ready for plants. The best time to do this is in fall, so the cardboard can break down over the winter and you’ll be ready to go in spring. The prep work probably won’t take much more than half an hour.
Creating a new garden path might seem like a lot of work, but you can have a simple one in about an hour. No, this isn’t a fancy-schmancy infomercial-type promise. All you need is cardboard, bricks or something else to outline the path, and mulch.
You’re going to be placing the cardboard directly onto the grass or whatever other surface you’re working on. Cardboard is thick enough so that you shouldn’t have any stray grass or weeds poking up through it. (If you do, just add more cardboard.) Place the cardboard in the shape you want the path to take. Outline with bricks, then cover with soil and mulch. Voilà!
The cost of seed-starting supplies can add up fast. Grow lights, special pots, fancy mats—I’ve tried them all. Cardboard boxes are the perfect solution for starting seeds because you can keep them growing inside longer, giving you stronger seedlings.(Don’t forget to provide them with plenty of light for optimum results.) Then just plop the whole thing, box and all, into your garden.
Recycled cardboard box gardens I believe Growing in a cardboard box seems almost as effortless, especially compared to other raised bed ideas.
Save or collect boxes to create raised beds. I usually have boxes from my case of bananas or other fruit. These boxes then get used in the garden in some way. In this case, the box acts like a barrier for weeds. Typical Raised beds are made of recycled pallets assembled with nails and hammers, and even some saw work or digging. Using the cardboard box method makes gardening for elders and kids easily maintained, considering it requires no tilling, shoveling, hoeing, etc.
Many Permaculturists use cardboard as the barrier layer between the grass/bare ground and the compost/soil/mulch layer. This ensures the weeds will not grow through the soil, competing with your veggies for nutrition. Keep in mind, cardboard boxes is a short term solution because the cardboard will quickly degrade with the contained soil. As the cardboard degrades it creates a surface medium for next years garden, for example: Continue to add soil/wood chips/compost over top the degraded/dilapidated boxes, which will continue to smother out surrounding weeds, and give you a chance to collect more cardboard for sheet mulching, which I have discussed in detail here: Straw bale Layering, & Lasagna Gardening (Sheet mulching).
Sheet Mulching the First step in sheet mulching is using cardboard or another type of barrier to lay on the grass (flat ground), but your second laye
Usually sheet mulching consists of three layers or more. What really matters is that weeds are smothered from your vegetable or flower garden, and you have a good mix of carbons, nitrogen, and other minerals. No matter what, homemade compost is always going to be the best garden soil/nutritional supplement in sheet mulching.
Sheet mulching requires a bit of materials for layering a large garden, but it's as easy as laying cardboard on the grass, then adding mulch and compost. Once you've established your "bed" of mulch there is no extra work involved in the following years, unlike using a rototiller.
Mulching / Ruth Stout
Ruth Stout: No-work Gardening “For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent.”
Stout was layering all her organic materials on top of her soil—sheet composting, as it might be traditionally called—to thwart weeds, reduce the need for fertilizers, conserve moisture and spare herself the work of composting in a conventional heap with all the toting and turning of materials. Her approach to gardening starts with the foundational principle of applying mulch, mulch and more mulch, and then simply moving it back a tiny bit each year a bit to make room for a row of seeds rather than all that turning and tilling (and weeding). Where do you get all that mulch? The garden creates it, or at least some of the raw material that becomes it: spent cornstalks and uprooted pea vines and the like, to which Stout added fall leaves and also bought-in straw or hay (“spoiled” hay was fine, and cheaper; don’t worry about a little decay). She was practical in so many ways: suggesting you take cues from the pace of plants to know what goes where (for example, that peppers can be planted in the spinach bed, since the latter will be done before the former get big enough to interfere). If there was no room in the good soil of the garden proper for space-hogging potatoes, no matter; she grew them on top of the ground somewhere sunny (including as an impromptu border to her big iris bed some years) and just covered the tubers with clean hay or straw, no digging involved. Ruth Stout's System for Gardening After you have mulched for a few years, your soil will become so rich from rotting vegetable matter that you can plant much more closely than one dares to in the old-fashioned way of gardening.
**Video: Part 1: The Cardboard Method for No-Till Farms and Gardens cardboard, hay on top. Plant through cardboard with dibble. The glue in the cardboard has a lot of protein in it; the worms go crazy. Every time you till you are releasing a lot of carbon into the air and you are destroying the organic matter.
Video: Part 2: The Cardboard Method for No-Till Farms and Gardens Make sure the cardboard overlaps.
Soil food web, No dig gardening, No till farming, Mulching, Living mulch, Back to Eden methodideo great summary on soil structure [soil food web]. He's in Kerela, India; originally from Germany. [Long video.] remove staples. Soak in water.
Video: No dig garden construction - workshop Wet the ground first. Wet the cardboard before laying it down. If not, the water will just run off the cardboard. Next cover with grass clippings or other green matter. Wet this down. Put kitchen scraps in the middle of the bed to discourage animals. Add some worms to give you a flying start. Add a layer of top soil. Water this down. Add a layer of hay. Water this down. Add a layer of green glass clippings--just a thin layer so it doesn't get hot and smell. Add a layer of compost
Chowhound on cardboard Comment: I don't have raised beds, but I do use tons of cardboard in my big garden, covering all the paths and spaces between plants. I hold it down with straw or leaves. By fall it is mostly gone, and I till it in. The cellulose in the paper is organic material, and it just makes your soil better and easier to work.
Mulching with straw will help keep weeds out of your soil and will retain moisture--which is sometimes a problem with raised beds. 3 or 4 inches will do it. Next spring, spade it in--don't go too deep, because you don't want to bring weed seeds up from the underlying soil.
Sheet Composting Step 1 Use spray paint or powdered lime to mark the perimeter of the new bed. Scalp the grass within the outline with a lawn mower.
Step 2 Spread a 2-inch layer of compost or composted manure over the bed. This helps encourage microbial activity in the soil and speeds decomposition. Moisten the compost well.
Step 3 Cover the compost with overlapping pieces of cardboard to smother the underlying vegetation and prevent light from reaching any weed seeds. Soak the cardboard with water.
Step 4 Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the cardboard and top it with up to 18 inches of mixed organic material (grass clippings, leaves, straw, seaweed, garden debris, farmyard maure).
Step 5 Include vegetable and fruit scraps and coffee grounds from the kitchen in the layers of organic matter. Moisten these layers.
Step 6 For vegetable beds, finish with 2 to 3 inches of straw or compost. Top ornamental beds with 4 inches of wood chips. In arid climates, water the bed occasionally. Soil microbes and earthworms will toil through the winter to decompose the organic material, cardboard, and sod.
Veganism: INTRO TO VEGANIC GARDENING Veganic gardening is a system of gardening that is done with respect for the sentient beings who are affected by the growing of plants. It is done without chemicals and without animal products, which are typically used in both conventional and organic growing. The methods used allow us to minimize the harm to other animals that occurs in food production. No pesticides are unnecessarily applied, indiscriminately killing bumblebees, butterflies and other insects, then washed into streams and groundwater to cause further harm to fishes and other aquatic animals. Mice, rabbits and other small animals aren’t killed by plows, tractors and combine harvesters. No shotguns are used to kill crows or other birds who attempt to take their share of the crops. Explosives aren’t used against rodents in their burrows. Violence isn’t leveled against any other being who, naturally, might want to feed on or make use of the crops being produced on their habitat. This motivation forms the basis of the method of gardening and farming known as Vegan-Organic, or in North America as Veganic, agriculture. It is also referred to as stockfree organic in the U.K.
Toxins in Your GardenManure in Compost On many farms, the basic composting ingredients are animal manure generated on the farm and bedding. Straw and sawdust are common bedding materials. Non-traditional bedding materials are also used, including newspaper and chopped cardboard. The amount of manure composted on a livestock farm is often determined by cleaning schedules, land availability, and weather conditions. Each type of manure has its own physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.
In 2007, a University of Minnesota study indicated that foods such as corn, lettuce, and potatoes have been found to accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with animal manure that contains these drugs... Using Manure in the Home Garden
Toxic manure Know where your manure comes from.
THE HIDDEN DANGER OF STRAW BALE GARDENING NO ONE IS MENTIONING Straw bale gardening can destroy your garden.
When I broke the story of toxic herbicides in manure back in August of 2012 via Natural Awakenings magazine, there were very few people that knew this stuff was around or how pervasive it really was. I wouldn’t have known either… if it hadn’t destroyed about $1000 worth of plants.
The soil beneath a pile of rotten hay or straw improves marvelously after a year or so, leaving a patch of humus-rich earthworm-populated earth.
Yet if that hay or straw came from a field that was sprayed with one or more persistent herbicides such as Grazon(TM) or CleanWave(TM), the vegetables in your straw bale gardens will be wrecked. Not only that, you can’t even compost the contaminated straw because the toxins (usually aminopyralid or its cousin clopyralid) stick around and will destroy whatever ends up with the resulting compost.
The reality of modern factory farming is that it’s farming based on poisons.
As the grains/grasses grow, they uptake these toxins without harm. Animals can also graze on the fields without apparent issue.
Yet the resulting straw and manure still contains a potent dose of plant-killing power – and the toxins can stick around for years.
I’ve been offered free manure for my gardens many times. I’ve even been told “We don’t spray anything on our fields.” Yet if those animals are eating hay from the feed store – or if there’s straw bedding in the stables – the chances of contamination are very high.
Unless you can verify that the fields from which your straw or hay was harvested weren’t sprayed within the last three years or so with persistent herbicides, you’re risking a lost gardening year… or more!
Home-grown veg ruined by toxic herbicide Gardeners across Britain are reaping a bitter harvest of rotten potatoes, withered salads and deformed tomatoes after an industrial herbicide tainted their soil. Caroline Davies reports on how the food chain became contaminated and talks to the angry allotment owners whose plots have been destroyed
Beginner’s Guide to Veganic Gardening we also avoid using animal products in the garden, as fertilizers such as blood and bone meal, slaughterhouse sludge, fish emulsion, and manures are sourced from industries that exploit and enslave sentient beings. As these products may carry dangerous diseases that breed in intensive animal production operations, vegan-organic gardening is also a safer, healthier way to grow our food.
Soil conditioners and fertilizers that are vegan-organic and ecologically sustainable include hay mulch, wood ash, composted organic matter (fruit/vegetable peels, leaves and grass clippings), green manures/nitrogen-fixing cover crops (fava beans/clover/alfalfa/lupines), liquid feeds (such as comfrey or nettles), and seaweed (fresh, liquid or meal) for trace elements.
A border of marigolds helps to deter certain insects, and they also have a root system that improves the soil.
INTRO TO VEGANIC GARDENING referred to as stockfree organic in the U.K.
Vegan friendly amendments include:
Sphagnum Peat (Mountain Peat is very unsustainable and should be avoided)
These are the non-vegan soil amendments that should always be avoided:
The Pros and Cons of Straw Bale Gardening End of Season Funk – By the end of the growing season a straw bale garden can look ragged and pretty funky. As the bales compost, they get a little saggy and untidy. Also, if you have tall plants like large tomatoes, sometimes the bales can't hold up their weight and they can start to tip over. You can add extra staking, but I just grow shorter tomatoes, or just let them sprawl.
Bales are Heavy – Straw bales are heavy especially when wet. If you’re not very strong or have an injury, get some help setting up your straw bale gardens.
So for me, at the end of the day, the pros vastly outweigh the cons of gardening in straw bales.
Farmer's Almanac: Straw Turns to Gold Straw bales are inexpensive gold for gardens. I only pay $4 a bale, and the straw saves me hours of weeding, watering, and worrying.
Everything in the vegetable garden is mulched with a 6-inch layer, including blueberries, Alpine strawberries and cranberries. I use a foot or two of straw atop the potato bed to grow clean potatoes that can be easily harvested. Tubers form in the straw and crops are always bigger when I use the straw mulch.
A thick blanket of straw keeps the moisture in soil, slowing evaporation radically. Watering the garden once a week will be the norm, rather than every day or two. If you live in an area of the country that is experiencing rainfall shortage this summer or drought, straw mulch is gold!
Straw also saves crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash from developing blossom-end rot and cat-facing; blueberries from shriveling; and sweet peppers from turning hot. Soil moisture stays even and calcium can be transferred from the soil to tomatoes easily, preventing the diseases. Straw mulch at the base of tomato and pepper plants also prevents that transfer of soil-borne diseases such as early blight to plant leaves. No water splashes up from the soil to leaves, because the straw absorbs it.
Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus