The stay-at-home order has made most of us aware of how we want to improve ourselves, our homes and what lies just beyond our windows. Enter Dave Hunsaker, the owner of Dave’s Organic Gardening. His 20 plus years of experience with lawn and gardens dates back to a landscaping business in Austin, Texas, before moving to the South Coast in 2012 to pursue the trade with an organic twist.

With over two decades of experience, it turns out that the best business advice he’s received came from home. “Most recently, my wife reminded me to, ‘do what you love, and the money will follow!’”

Currently serving Carpinteria, Goleta and Montecito, pop on his blog for helpful tips on roses, how to handle your lawn during a drought, and compost FAQs. Or better yet, hire Dave and his crew to reuse up to 80 percent of your green waste through mulching or composting by recycling your grass and “using organic fertilizers and organic approaches to pest problems and plant disease.” He also does garden consultations where he’ll inspect your garden, landscape and sprinklers and give you a recommendation on how to make your green space more organic and eco-friendly.

When I asked him, what makes his business stand out, Dave listed several unique aspects that set him apart from others. First, he said he hires “guys that are plant and soil geeks that have education around plants, soil and horticulture, and permaculture,” and then he pays his employees to become certified green gardeners and advanced certified green gardeners.

Second, he said he only uses products that “are certified by the OMRI (Organic Reviewed Material Institute) and have an environmentally sound plan for dealing with insects.”

Third, Dave’s said he works “with soil to remediate it and bring the biology back… using permaculture techniques to enhance the soil and health of plants. And finally, he composts. Dave said, “I compost green waste (or turn your garbage into gold) and reduce your carbon footprint.”

Dave and his team also specialize in rain catchment systems, installing rain barrels, tanks or underground systems. “We install rain gardens by capturing as much water runoff as we can,” he said. “This creates a small wet weather pond that slowly seeps back into the soil, stimulating flowers and other bee-attracting plants.”

The key to Dave’s business success is teaching employees and clients the benefits of gardening organically. Things like IPM (Integrated Pest Management) or soil remediation, the act of renewing damaged soil.

When it comes to a trade secret, his tip may surprise you. “Worm castings are magic! Your soil and plants love them,” said Dave, quoting gardening book authors Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. “Worms unlock chemical bonds and make (the castings) seven times richer in phosphate, have 10 times more-available potash (an alkaline potassium compound), five times the nitrogen, three times the usable magnesium, and one and half times higher in calcium.”   

For Dave, continuing education in your desired field is essential. “Learning doesn’t stop with the end of classes,” he said. “Keep studying and researching what you’re passionate about.”

Learn more about Dave’s Organic Gardening by visiting DavesOrganicGardening.com or calling (805) 637-0404.

Megan Waldrep is a columnist and freelance writer, currently living on a 34-foot sailboat. To learn more about Megan, visit meganwaldrep.com.

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