Organics is more than just a concept, or the products used, or the food you eat. It is a holistic approach to growing everything from simple plants to high value crops, herbs and flowers. The foundation of organic growing begins with an understanding that plant life depends on healthy soil. These two are inseparably linked. Once this relationship is broken, in comes plant disease, insect infestation, opportunistic weeds and inferior plants.
The mistake is buying into the deception that the answer is using deadly products containing carcinogens, mutagens, toxic heavy metals or endocrine disrupters. Why disease prevention isn’t taught is baffling. Well-nourished soil is healthy and naturally disease-free or very disease-suppressed.
There are vital and dramatic alternatives to toxic products: Organic products and practices that promote health, restore life and detoxify affected soil and plants.
If the soil lacks certain elements, conditions and life, it results in malnutrition for the plants that depend on a properly balanced diet. Missing elements won’t allow plant genes for disease and pest resistance to get “turned on.”
Organics is a way of life. There are many short-term results: Improved nutrient uptake, increased beneficial microbe activity, disease suppression, even savings. But the practice is forever.
Keys to Healthy Soil
Soil Atmosphere (porous soil spacing)
Minerals (recommended soil pH is 6.3 - 6.8)
Feed the Soil
Biologicals: Beneficial soil bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes, while metabolizing (eating and burning up) nutrients, give off heat and gas. Enzymes are plant nutrition in symbiotic relationship with beneficial soil fungi called mycorrhizae. Worms aerate the soil, eat and convert organic matter into plant nutrition and contribute beneficial bacteria to the soil.
Compost: One of the best things you can use. It contributes most of the keys to soil health and facilitates atmosphere and moisture retention, too.
Compost Tea: Works as a soil drench and as a foliar spray. When used as a foliar spray, not only is there a nutrient benefit to the plant but covering foliage with compost tea will help establish the proper surface biology that fungus and other diseases will not attack.
Additionally, minerals, plant acids (ie: humic acid, fulvic acid, gibberellic acid), enzymes and beneficial bacteria can be added where needed. Adding mineral rock dust mimics the actions of Mother Nature (glaciers, wind and flooding), redistributing essential minerals for maximum plant/soil use.
Growing plants use minerals. When plants are removed from where they grew, minerals leave, too. They should be replaced. Plants need more than NPK fertilizer, just as we need a varied diet to achieve our health potential.
At planting add mycorrhizae, humates and mineral rock dust to the backfill. It enhances the plant’s ability to establish routine and improve the soil in the rhizophere (root zone).
By Joe Raboine, Director of Residential Hardscapes,
Photographs courtesy of Belgard
When designing outdoor spaces, most homeowners historically leaned towards traditional designs. But as outdoor living becomes a more integral part of daily life design concepts have changed. Belgrade has an interesting article that details some of the modern design ideas. Click here for an interesting article.
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