On Monday I got rather long-winded about soil amendments. I talked about the CT NOFA standards, the importance of researching what you put into the soil, and even touched a bit again on some prohibited amendments and some amendments that CT NOFA asks us to either use with caution or to consider not using at all (peat moss because of its harvesting practices, fish emulsion because of mercury and overfishing).
By now you may be thinking, “Oh the heck with it! I’m getting some Miracle-Gro or some Osmocote and I’ll be done with it!”
Well, that’s certainly one option–not the organic one, but it’s always your choice. But if you’ll bear with me a minute longer, let me tell me what happens if you do that.
Back in my days of retail gardening, folks would ask me about fertilizers. And because I was there to sell and not espouse my personal philosophy, I would need to recommend a fast acting fertilizer on occasion. But this is what I’d say.
Use the Miracle-Gro now. But think of it like Slim Fast. It’s not a permanent weight loss solution. It’s a crash diet for the plant. It goes in fast, it’s used up fast, and you have to do it again, over and over, if you want results.
If you want something to feed the plants for the long haul–and who doesn’t? You don’t want to be a slave to your plants, right? Here. Use this. And then I’d give them whatever organic-y fertilizer we had on hand.
Most times it worked like a charm–as well it should–because who does want to be a slave to our plants?
But that’s not the only reason to avoid synthetic fertilizers. They are extremely good at what they do. When I have clients that use them, I am often shocked and dismayed at how lush their houseplants are compared to mine (not that mine are any slouches, mind you–but we’ve all seen those commercials on TV!)
But they don’t feed the soil. And feeding the soil (see Monday’s post) feeds your plants. And then there’s none of this little problem of “how do I fertilize my plants?”
The other thing the synthetics do is actively kill the good stuff in the soil. For those of you using synthetics, think about it: do you have earthworms? They are nature’s aerators. And never mind what you can’t see. There are billions of good bacteria in the soil. Pouring synthetics in there weakens and kills off the good stuff. And when we disturb the ecosystem, no good can come of that. That just invites insects and disease.
When I lecture, folks ask me how I control grubs, one of the most pernicious destroyers of lawns and plant roots in our part of the world (and I don’t just mean Japanese beetle grubs. In my part of the world, it’s European chafer and oriental beetles grubs too–the trifecta of grubs!)
I see the beetles all over my yard–but I have no grub damage (for that matter, I have very little beetle damage. Do you know what I tell them?
Invite the birds into your garden. But it’s really hard to do that with synthetics all over the place. You don’t want to poison your best method of pest control. But that’s Monday’s post!