6/9: John Dromgoole, The Natural Gardener

Texas Energy Lab
Saturday, June 9th

Homegrown organic gardening legend John Dromgoole stops by Texas Energy Lab to chat with hosts McKay Proctor and Sherren Harter about the spirituality of sustainability, the simplicity of organic gardening success, and what you can discover when you visit The Natural Gardener in Austin.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Hi there. Welcome to Texas energy left your favorite sports thoughtful conversations on life sustainability and innovation in the lone star state. If you found this on the radio you party you know were on talk thirteen 70 AM every Saturday at 6 PM. Energy ball at your listening visually seniority know that the shows available online at TX energy lab dot com. Or Revver finer past podcasts are downloaded. For small thank you to freedom solar power title song sponsored you can find out more about them solar power of freedom solar power dot com. I am for better or for worse your host for the afternoon money ms. McKay Procter and I'm here with my far superior cohost Sharon harder chair and I think is gonna be special and you'd heard deaths. Thank you McKay yes hi everybody welcome and I am thrilled to introduce today aid local legend John dry and cool. From natural Gardiner and and really and and and credible voice an advocate for. For organic food and for gardening not only in Texas but nationally so I know you are. Very busy man you are all over the place not just at notre garner but also you on and yourself on radio and TV and written articles and so we are thrilled to have you here today welcomed. Sharon thank you very much for inviting me I'm honored to come down in and be with you off and so this should be. Regardless solar room right here already so we're. Dealing with the centers mourn this afternoon. Yes there. Tell a little bit about you know how I know you moved to Austin in the 1970s right from it from the real early eighty's yes in league through the valley from down in the regular. But the son of which he had. No luck to them their retreat and so we actually just sat pretty color just you put ads solar and medical office building professional building in your rate has. They're they're due the rumor Dupree change. But we just still living in the 1890s. Texas and a little behind an Atlanta. You know done along the border and it's another state is the seventh flag over Texas and on the Mexico side and on the Texas. There's a strip of land that was slow Louis down to the belly. And that's different you know when you talk about Mexican food in them where retention is not that. That's where that. Comes from not down deep in Mexico and is not a Texan thing. It's his teammates expect to hear of that threat to inject here. So John could question do you think that that Mexican heritage in your childhood and in the area where you corrupt affected your approach to organic gardening in the way that you see here. See you're gonna just. And yes it definitely did I think show. Because many of my friends were. They have the same consciousness about the environment. And show I was influenced by them and we were held influencing each other friends of mine had branches that have to be managed to certain way. In a sustainable way. Also. We them we began to collect cactus as youngsters because we've that's when it was around here so we begin to know them by their names. And found that there were very interest thing and we couldn't kill them. Mystery trust you know. So harvested properly we didn't just look if you can get them. About the people had branches and so. I did learn a lot down their I was influenced my parents didn't have gardens necessarily. Bit they had they had the hardest gave the green and the gazprom's and they had queries and everything that the builder would give him time. But I did my gardening my first garden was. We live here that's called the morning meal money neo is where they grind corn make her two years in on the weekends image sweet bread. And so I was after church I would go down there and have picked up some sweet bread and and some corn that was spilled they had stacks and stacks of bags of corn oil is still my pocket the summit harm. And then at home we had she's also there were Pinto beans. Are great the hookah. And so between the yet corn in the Pinto beans. And a friend of mine Adam and well we all hung out together the times of between the two missed repented gardens and sure enough for that they would come up. And without a problem at all. We would have corn we would have big crops like magic that was so encouraging you know to be successful at first. Not thinking about a future garden but just kind of like oh this works it's really nice and there were several other things an eyewitness down there. For example and I commissions or do something that we use in the news in the business community to manage in six. Well in my friend's house. Am in a big yard and roses do very well down there and heroes that you see a certain size your pitched twice as big down there. Quality of life makes a big difference. And so we'd be out in the yard. And I suddenly Gardiner down there and of everybody has a Mexican gardener down there and who have become over there and the best gardeners in the world I think. And so he was under the roses that'd be better bruises. And every so often achieve a dust grew up in the air by the roses and then he grabs more dust and threw it up in the air through dry areas of dust was about to. And so. It just pennant seemed odd to me that didn't register in any way in order to have to think about it again and then one day in the future. I remember had a flashback of him. Hurting him now but I commission searched the soil in the Reggie Fuller died time it was under the ocean and so. Now I knew what he was doing he instinctively knew how to manage insects. Was it just a little bit of dust. And especially great. In assuming we get and see learn things without having a teacher. There. And we think it's likely I mean I think of and you're trying to get me an age no pass and for your fertilization and that and all of that. What it organically has a more difficult process right we've been a guy in a modern day an age of entry to think that it's easier. To use chemicals that you know writes it like what you just point out that it's really much closer to eat you know what's. Natural and common sense and and Cindy's is easier to as. Shores of plans go. As well adapted plants planted in the right season. And who will build soil and you've got yourself a good organic garden tomb writes isn't as important adapted she needs. And good sure. And you're on your way organic gardening you know isn't really difficult is observing nature letting nature do its job without. Intervening because you think you have to if she and a productive or you think I'm gonna you're really is a difference. If you could see them close and I understand you would probably see many of them are ready parish and ties they're they're dried up on there. That means don't do any thing you know you have a foods because you'll kill the beneficial insects that's doing that respect. You throw them balance up in the garden and there you are now in charge of managing what you might think to harmed harmful insects. In reality you've created this situation. So it seems like you started your first garden almost accidentally just had this apocryphal corn Lima beans and uber. Not speech dominos sort of a natural partner. And then you learn about diet that you start to you know academically study the wave. Playing by them you start using big words like Mo. And have a problem okay I'll that it is not a starter with Erica so. Yes I learned by observing men but I didn't know I was observing. I was storing stuff in my bank there and then it came up as I saw it again later armament. But I did. So I came to us. Used to be I used to have a witchy. So bell bottoms what goats big collars. Platform shoes I mean it was a repeat. Still in today. It's gonna wreck everything comes insert yeah for the folks out radio land John has this Saturday night fever. It looks really know that's that was later. That was later. And so. I am at a car wreck broke my back a lusty boutique because I was out for so long. That dome and have a personality even business if you're not there and then there's a problem. And so I moved to Austin many of my friends had moved to Austin. One of the things I was looking for where is where my friends you have to go to northern Austin. So I would come up here and the retreat here not seen trees at the wish he was a forest. You know because. And so when I came to Austin so these treasonous in my goodness and then the music. When you know meter and you know this is a beautiful paradise at that time the Steelers to come appear. So work for a friend of mine named meg meg was from the radio song. Ended and she came out and I was working with a Philip but for a long time she wrote but some of the alternative newspapers and agree. And then she ended up working with Mark Blumenthal. At a place co squeeze harder it's. And they were big distributors distributors of different types of herbs all around Tuesday there was huge and seeing where bags of cameo. Or. All these different things. And searching knew that I had arrived at here and they offered me a job over there because one of the things I was looking for was. What are the more important things you can do an organic gardening. And is and I thought well there's herb street could they help people and I thought that was the most important thing of course to the herbs. And after awhile I thought you know what organic gardening affects more people you don't have to be sick to you know to them. And users on the some people do as a matter of fact. And not have to be human. And then I went back to gardening. You. Learn to sew them. Is aggression and take each questioned excellent but I'm try to do it briefly so. After working a sweetheart nerves a little bit I moved to San Antonio. There's around San Antonio or the big growers. Providers applied to the different nurseries and and Adam in order to learn. I studied radio television and film in college. So our it was fun it is and I didn't have to go to other classes that matches come on down to the auditorium. And so. I. Starred in what I wanted more and more to learn about it this horticulture thing. So worked at different places one place we propagated trees know when I learned how to do production stuff like chrysanthemum for a Mother's Day not today after. That point shed as for Christmas in late November instead of January 1 we're pitching incentives of that part. So there was a lot of time in Tyler the science of doing that. Other places them were doing different things and I learned from them. And that has got loose body was down there in San Antonio. Had a job there were very time of the best to garden centers with the restaurant on the river. And they need somebody to work down there. And I got a job there too and I learned about landscaping the architects were working in there was say look this is the face of the plant. When you put it in make it phased out this way and they just taught me so much about the details. And before you know it. Had been well versed. In them the different things about propagation problems were put it. Ready to maybe start your own business which we love tank dig into a little bit more and that your partner we come back from this break stay tuned. Thirteen seventy. Back to Texas and I. Laughter Sharon harder and everything came across carrier hosts this week and we are sitting John trumbull who is explaining how I got into gardening and made a few quick bypass two black clothing and then and then herbs and then back to natural gardening. And I'm assuming that's led due Tuesday natural partner and he tells little bit more about how backpacks how you started. So my friends here in Austin Magnum brought me up here for urged married a gentleman debt was an organic gardener. And so I learned from the beginning about organic techniques they had the job done of the campus the general store. And part of that yeah and so and they hired me down their peers in new ad business experience in my apron is pregnant that they need some pepper. So I worked at the jungles or. But it still didn't know the names from all the different plants in the user requirements beat before I get into natural because we regard there. But I didn't know the names of the plants like. So people the students who come in and ask you something about plan. Well as to Alter boy we are still doing Latin stolen I would look at it botanical name I knew something about it. It was a purple long hired by you know and I would say that it's a purple by. Now Bedford at play with and finally I made them cards and then they would ask and reject. Them and that's pretty brutal case again yeah. So we didn't organics are we only spoke for gimmicks and and so that was the initiation into news. And then OK so next down the road here was. When she was back gender child and in need me anymore. Mr. whose Bill Clinton's. Although it doesn't and so. I went. Like we heard on the road again I got a truck and I went down back to the rate of goods and knew where they blue glass in leveler. My problems. Things of that could recycle. And so I knew that place and I would go in there and by some in the US to bigger pieces you know what time of the year and when when that was. Literary and he did during the initial two rare in today's when you're down there during the last it would go to the flower shops and now. I did that when I got out of there and and then the other thing that was the period marker was. McNamee. And so and so that's a window right there that I went out to work I started landscaping here Dustin. And I found that the people I was beginning four and other nurseries coming last year Christian bidding against. It was costing more to do the year and the technique because I wasn't using roundup I was pulling weeds or spend the day pulling weeds. So it became very competitive. And them really just didn't work all that well because of these other expenses and products weren't available. That was the big deal drugs when available. So I join your getting garden club which had have been meeting for. Ash seventy years now. All this continuously meeting organic garden club in the United States. Government anger to earn spent some time with these people. Learned quite a bit it's. And so and learn from them and other places. You couldn't go buy organic gardening products and I identified did niche embassy denies it. If I can't find them and they can't find them we need a place willing to find them all the great business ideas are starting and entertaining any kind of filled an interest there. And them making potting soil and use them John was or in there and oh so. So. That's kind of in the beginning and they're filling a niche with organic gardening products. Organic gardening started. Not long I mean started a long time ago is there was always done that way but. M win the first product came on the market could be used to have to use blender you know we. This is. Horrible business how we didn't reject if we were trying to come control grasshoppers we put a whole bunch in the blender hoping that one of them sick with a disease. Bench behind it well that's about as I was atrocious but today to biological control. It's no semen look rusty this is a disease or grasshoppers I was hoping that one of them had to read that it ferment for a few days screened and spray it. Whether it was drugs are grasshopper here all had the same idea but the homeowner wouldn't do adapt. You know they didn't have time hearing just them doing all the things whether we get to garlic and pepper spray for insecticides. The Indians people. Good people. Weren't ready for that. And everybody had to have to lenders and you introduced. When you're in six and when you're smoothie. I love apple so this is never missed so there is telling. You know reading the grass hopper cricket have you grasshopper yes OK good I need is right in what exactly yeah there they're very protein it's they are they're very good. So. Rumor. The days and six title so FEMA and there was a day you that it happened. Sector a boost in name of the company about this I was thrilled to CEO of certain the first product out there. And I was mad at the same time because if I'd been known you could boggle so can sell it to people would have done that. They didn't know that until they showed. Who saved her really opened the door now people were willing to go buy something off the shelf. Use it make it convenient and now organics took off because inconvenient. And so something that we really like to focus focus on the show is the wave that Texans came in create sustainable weight. Bar rooms within their lives rather be you know electrically or traditionally. I'm so obviously you know the the earth is very close to what you do with the natural Gardiner played. What about all of this sort of like non plan things they go along with the business. And how do you create. Sustainability that matches the sustainability of your process occurred. When questioned them and I'm sure that they'll go their way Israel and will I'm the mean just approach something in a different way and that is. I needed to place that I could show the extension agents were. Against us in the way there which we would say something organic and in their own their own talk some and its in this on this and those guys known does not gonna work. And by any overtime. And we are always angry at each other. Extension and an organic gardeners because of where disagreement on doing things. Mentioned you know went them and pushing them away the more I argue about it to further when they get let me change. And so and I started the process of talking nicely to bring him close and the property that were on was going to be an experiment. That showed them how organics were. And so that was kinda how that property cam about. It is a very spiritual. Facility when you're driving that gates from the city things change for you. And the spirituality. Of this sustainability question that you have is one of the more important things and we'll get back to. But somebody great place to jump into really get back to the you're right thank you Jon we'll be right back after his district my sponsors. Thirteen seventy. Welcome back to Texas energy Gladys McCabe Procter and I'm here with my cohost Sharon harder we're sitting with John drum rule of the natural Gardiner. John you were just getting into you before the break sort of a spirituality of sustainability or something that you goes deeper than just the way we treat years but the way that we. Express ourselves as sustainable people. Through what we do to you know part of that pie hit you know it's indefinite part of the power and I am so. I was talking about finding this land it was one of the biggest blessings in my life. I've had many blessings that this was the biggest one I've about it during the time savings and loans are triggering it was a great opportunity by eight acres to work. First thing I did was go outside and started mr. Burton and needed to show that you can feed a family or the world by doing it this way. And then there were other things that two of them are all part of that sustainability on the land. And I started from the beginning with respect for the way and there were deer out there urgent peacock got their boxes are still out there. And then they could easily be the plants I was bringing in for sale. And I said. You going leave me alone. I leave you alone. As long as you respect me. I'll respect you until the animals could stay in their own so that's pretty good policy like freely there really is and it really helped us. Not think about that other than to say there's approximate their today you know. And like little prince we would get closer and closer that talks on the time. So that that it. Today the property has grown into a nice place to visit is a nice place to go observe. Whether it's a butterfly garden focused on the Mon march coming through here. Growing vegetables making compost. We have a lever and two walks through. And and we chickens and goats that kids love you know kids have never seen the chicken outside empty refrigerator at the grocery store with the wrapper on it. That goes for most vegetables frankly RNA and when you pull up and carried your kid or you know and took his love the place because of these different things. And they're not going mommy mommy I wanna go whatever it is they're staying there and and pointing things out to Miami. Am so it's a kid place and a dog place. And people can come out there and vision and experience that spirituality that energy that they don't it's palpable but you don't always know and run tell everybody. But it is a place that is one of respect. New staff comes in and tell them about. How we've always cared for this land and I expect them to. Treat our customers. Their fellow workers and the land same way with something from the heart. So what's next like you based on you've really expanded an added to we know what's there and went to help people you know. Feel more at connected to the space will what is the future hold three earned the natural partner. For me to be sitting under the bell bay with my legs crushed into a tucked me come there and we'll talk like Don Corleone and if you'd like to know him. I liked the staff. They run the place you know. If it wasn't for them he wouldn't be as beautiful and complete and balanced as it is it's not just me. The best legacy as an Atlantic picket or continues and grows and drives me and he workday or you leave it like a spider we take you refute you never go back to him. Sort time together growing short can you tell people out there where they can now find more of your work. Well our business are the natural Gardner is that 8648. Old B care broad and 640 it'll be here road you can look on lines to the natural Gardner and find out about this there's a big story there beyond what we re able to share today review. And so come experience it yourself and you'll find it to him. It is a place of respect from people would come out there and which you receive there is this something that. You will eventually learn about coming out. And the main thing is you can bring your pets. In the dogs are out there you keep kids unleash I only ask that when the equipment deduction on those particular you don't know me. Get us in it is. Are right so I think that's all the time we have for this week hope that everyone on their radio land has learned as much as we have in the Booth. Mr. from cool I think we have to have you back to feels like we've always crisis or if you start calling John and we'll come. Okay all right everybody I hope you have a lovely Saturday evening and her if you're on their list and on your own time I hope you have a a lovely day if you want to listen to more episodes of this podcast. You can find them at. TX energy lab dot com. Once again thank you two or title sponsor freedom solar power you can find more information about them at the solar powered our car. Are we'll see all next week. We see in the garden.