It's Summertime in the Garden,
ello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the time for lemonade, watermelon, and barbecues on the back lawn. Speaking of lawns, how does yours look this summer?
With all of the fancy chemical products we see advertised on the TV you'd think everyone in America should have an emerald green lawn that is lush, thick, and perfect. Well the truth is that these products really don't deliver on the vast majority of their promises. Yes, they may green up your lawn in just moments (garden time) and get it growing quickly, but that's all they do. So what else is there? Well, a whole bunch, my gardening friends. These chemical plant foods are notorious for making poor soils worse, as well as harming earthworm and other beneficial soil organisms. "What can be done?" you ask.
There are oodles of wonderful natural/ organic lawn and garden plant foods out there these days. "Why should I join the weirdo organic people?" you say. Well there are a few good reasons and all of them are environmentally responsible.
Organic plant foods improve soil quality by adding valuable organic matter, they feed trillions of beneficial soil organisms that in turn feed your plants, and they increase the water holding capacity of soils so you don't need to water as much. Plus - and here's the big one they don't pollute. Natural/ organic plant foods are actually recycled plant or animal matter that will help to reduce runoff water from your garden, thus minimizing or outright eliminating nutrient runoff from your garden.
So then, what real sense does it make to use these chemical plant foods since the recommended rate of reapplication is every two weeks? Natural/organic plant foods last much longer than these chemical products, as a general rule. Most gardeners that I know would rather go out into their gardens to enjoy the scenery instead of having to apply fertilizers every 10 to 14 days. Yes, these chemicals do work fast and they are cheap to purchase on an individual basis. But, if you add up all the times you'll need to use this stuff to keep the garden green, they aren't so cheap anymore. Certainly the television images these products give us of lush foliage and incredible flowers is very persuasive. Yet so were Marlboro commercials, and look what happened to that poor sap that played the Marlboro man.
Your garden is a place where you should feel comfortable about you and your family recreating there. Having an abundance of potentially toxic and hazardous chemical residues lurking in the garden is less than reassuring when it comes to the health of our loved ones. Natural/ organic plant foods for the garden that can be found all over the country in garden centers and nurseries are free of synthetic materials of dubious origin and unknown chemical constituents.
Natural/organic plant foods create healthier plants because they help to create a healthier soil. There is an old farmer's axiom that goes like this: "Feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants." This could very well be the most sensible thing ever said about growing any kind of crop or garden plants. It is good to remember that natural/ organic plant foods and sensible methods of pest control were very effective before all of the myriad chemical products were even thought up. That doesn't mean you should get some goats to mow your lawn or buy a duck for snail control. But it does inspire a bit of thought about the wisdom of instant gratification gardening at the expense of your personal environments and the water, air, and soil quality in your neighborhood. Wisdom is something that is beneficial. What benefit, other than some ephemeral satisfaction, do chemical pesticides and plant foods provide?
Natural materials like blood meal, bone meal, alfalfa meal, fish emulsion and meals, and any number of blended commercial organic plant foods are abundantly available and are just as easy to use as any of the materials produced by modern chemical manufacturers. Try some out. Your soil, your plants, and your local environment will be a happier and healthier place because you did .
|Got questions? Email the Doc at Curlymill.net. Don Trotter's Natural Gardening columns appear nationally in environmentally sensitive publications. Look for Don's books Natural Gardening A-Z, on sale now, and his new release The Complete Natural Gardener, both from Hay House Publishing, www.HayHouse.com.|