Feb 252012


Gary Kline is the owner of Black Lake Organics in Olympia, Washington, the best source in the Northwest for mineral fertilizers.

A Phone Call From Solomon

Reprinted with permission of Gary Kline

“Steve Solomon, for those who don’t know, is the founder of Territorial Seed Company, and author of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades (six editions).  He is the acknowledged guru of gardening in the Maritime Northwest.  Steve and I have crossed paths a few times in the past and I regard him as a mentor and inspiration.  Steve is the one who turned me back on to the work of Dr. William A. Albrecht back in 1997, during a meeting in Yelm.  As a result, my nursery and garden supply business and, in fact, my whole world-outlook changed.  I owe Steve a lot.

Imagine my complete surprise when I picked up the phone on February 2nd and heard a man say “This is someone you haven’t talked to in a long time; do you recognize my voice?”  “Sort of”, I said.  “This is Steve Solomon.”  I stalled out for awhile, thinking of another Steve who it did not sound like.  Then it sunk in.  Steve was calling me from Tasmania (using Magic Jack), and we had a long talk.

What mainly prompted Steve’s call was that he had been having trouble with his garden and got a soil test and evaluation through Michael Astera, author of The Ideal Soil, that I had some influence on.  It turns out Steve had not read far enough into Dr. Albrecht’s writings, which I always suspected.  Anyway, Steve implemented the fertilizer prescriptions from Astera and he had wonderful results with his garden.  He was very impressed and struck up an internet conversation with Michael that lead to an agreement to co-author a new book featuring a whole new perspective on mineral nutrient balancing, using ratios developed by Albrecht, plus others being researched by Astera.

The upshot is that the book writing deal fell through, and so Solomon called me to learn about the history of the development of Black Lake Organic’s BLOOM fertilizers and about the mineral make-up, etc..  Actually, his own fertilizer recipe was the basic inspiration.  As he said, he suspected that my BLOOM fertilizers were superior to his famous Complete Organic Fertilizer (C.O.F.) that appears in all his books, and he wanted to know the ingredients and nutrient numbers.

These are things that are on the back labels of all 10 BLOOM formulations, so I sent him the information, plus information on desired soil test parameters, since he now wants to get into that field.  In exchange, he said he would help my products and services become better known through two upcoming books and a worldwide network of contacts that he has.  Getting word of a superb fertilizer formulation out there will have a big impact on our mutual aims.

Steve and I had a long talk about J. I. Rodale, his influence on the organic movement, what went wrong with it, and how Steve thinks Rodale basically lost interest in it and went over to Prevention Magazine to pursue nutritional health.

Because Rodale left Organic Gardening Magazine in other hands, the message became simplified to “organic matter solves all”, and the mineral message, which Rodale was cognizant of, was lost.  One consequence of this was that Steve, a “vegetabletarian”, lost most of his teeth, as he told me (and showed me) back in 1997.  He blamed it on being guided by Organic Gardening Magazine and overdosing on organic matter.

Now Steve has grasped a deeper significance to full, advanced, mineralized fertilization, which I dubbed “Mineral-Augmented Organics”, back in 1998.  We both agreed this is what organic growing should have been, i.e., organic matter plus the nutrient minerals.  Maybe it will yet get back on track.  Perhaps no one could have a greater influence on that than Solomon.

All the great giants of alternative agriculture were greatly concerned about widespread malnutrition as a consequence of soil depletion and destruction (plus modern food processing and a general lack of knowledge about proper nutrition).  Clearly our major, modern, killing diseases are tied to malnutrition.  Now Solomon and I are both obsessed with it and see our higher purpose as trying to educate and assist in reversing this and restoring nutrition in food, in soils and in people – – – because it is so supremely important.

One of Solomon’s upcoming books will be the seventh edition of Gardening West of the Cascades, but with a whole different slant on soil fertilization, which largely governs gardening success.  As Albrecht pointed out, food is the most basic ecological fact, and the quality of food governs health and sickness, and survival throughout nature.  The new edition will emphasize professional soil testing with interpretation by soils experts.  Quite a coincidence because Black Lake Organic is going back into providing that service.

One thing about Solomon is that he’s not afraid to change course, and has done so a number of times through the evolution of his six editions and fertilizer recipe modifications.  This, however, is revolutionary in that he used to advise against spending your money to get a soil test as being unnecessary.  I don’t think he saw my newsletters of long ago, strongly disagreeing with him on that point.  Then again, he was talking about a different genre of soil testing he examined back in the 1980’s.

In 2005 Solomon authored Gardening When It Counts:  Growing Food in Hard Times, in anticipation of economic calamity, water and petroleum shortages.  It was written from Tasmania with a worldwide purview.  Here’s a quote from that book on page 35:  “I am well aware of what garden magazines (and books) have said about the joys of turning any old clay pit into a Garden of Eatin’ by hauling and blending in enough composted organic matter.  But please consider what I say in this book about the harmful nutritional consequences of unbalancing a soil after mixing too much organic matter into it.  The quality of your garden’s nutritional output is your family’s health.”

Steve has uncanny observational powers and is an outstanding writer.  However, he told me he has become a better writer.  What’s the next step up from outstanding?  The other book he is writing will deal with nutrient density in vegetables and how to grow the most nutritious foods in your own garden.  Those who have been getting the Gary Kline missives over the past decade and a half will recognize that theme.  Basically, there is a whole nation and a whole world to educate and convert.  Help us out.”  GLK

© 2012 Gary L. Kline

All Rights Reserved

Black Lake Organic

4711 Black Lake Blvd. S.W.

Olympia, WA 98512





  3 Responses to “A Phone Call From Solomon”

  1. I was doing fine, until I got to the part about him losing most of his teeth, from overdosing on organic matter…I’m sticking to my Julia Child regimen.

  2. What’s your Julia child regimen? Mine consists of watching old Meryl Streep movies.

  3. A little bit of everything, especially moderation. (well..I’m working on the moderation part). Meryl did a great Julia, I’d love to see her Margaret Thatcher.

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