Saturday, March 28, 2009

Soil is - were it all begins

Change your soil, bring it back to life - the organic way!

I can't wait for my compost to "harvest". This winter I accumulated more than ever and soon it will be spread over and worked into the garden soil. A good part of this compost is thanks to gardener-friendly Starbucks, were I pick up loads of coffee grounds (best ratio of "green" and "brown" material).

Imagine: 90% of garden success is related to the quality of soil!
Without good soil, all of your gardening efforts are wasted.

Benefits of organic lawn and garden care: Lawns and gardens cared for organically produce plants with greater drought tolerance, disease and insect resistance and yields. Organic gardening is less expensive and time-consuming than the chemical alternatives. Your applied compost is chemical free and it won’t make kids, pets and yourself sick. Pesticides have been linked to birth defects, hormonal imbalances, cancer and many neurological problems.
I highly recommend to read the book "The world according to Monsanto" or watch the DVD...

Fact is that plants fertilized organically - using compost, manure, bone meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, sea weed etc. - require less fertilizer than plants fed with synthetic fertilizer (and it's less expensive too). Recent studies have shown that synthetic fertilizers DO NOT encourage the growth of microorganisms which live in the soil and transform nutrients - but also shows the fact that the application of a synthetic fertilizer actually kills a significant percentage of beneficial microorganisms.
Micro organisms break down organic matter such as compost and convert nitrogen from the air into a plant-useable form. Others are organisms which keep cutworms, chinch bugs and grubs in check such as beneficial

It can take several weeks for the soil organisms to recover from a single application of synthetic fertilizer. Long term use of synthetic fertilizers can cause a lawn or garden to become a wasteland on the microscopic level where only the most tolerant of microorganisms can survive.
Compare it with your diet: It is healthier to eat fresh, organic food that you prepared and cooked, than to eat only processed food and to compensate this unhealthy dieat, buy lots of vitamins and minerals.

Here are some recovering steps to help your garden:
Determine the organic content by filling soil in a glass jar, add water and let stand for at least a day. The content in the jar will show in layers. Compare the amount of odd shaped material on top of the soil with the rest of the jars content. That’s your organic material. Used as an organic mulch, it can cut back waterings, cooling the root zone and suppressing weeds.
Properly aged compost contains many of the beneficial microorganisms that your soil needs for revitalization. Add 15% organic compost worked in the first foot of soil. For lawns top-dressing - spreading evenly on the surface - will show similar results after several weeks. The compost you use can come from a backyard composter or farm animal manure, all properly composted before you apply it to a lawn or planted garden. Compost that is too raw can burn your plants. Apply compost to lawns in early spring or fall only.

Poor soil will benefit from the application of organic fertilizers (not "organic-based" - which is in fact chemical). Apply organic fertilizer as often as you applied synthetic. By the third year you will need to apply less (no more than twice, spring and fall, for lawns). Once your garden (or lawn) has a healthy, well balanced soil, an application of fertilizer is appropriate if you want your plants to grow larger or produce more fruit or flowers, annuals and vegetables require the most, shrubs and evergreens require less, trees require little fertilizer (unless diseased).
Nitrogen-rich fertilizers should be applied more heavily in spring, when most new growth takes place. Cool weather plants such as grass will benefit from fall application. Trees and shrubs benefit from a light feeding of phosphorous and potassium in spring. They will also benefit from an application of bone meal when planting.

MORE HELP for your plants:

- Companion planting such as marigold helps by discouraging insects - Fixing nitrogen from the air and make it available for other plants e.g. pole beans and corn - the corn stakes the beans, the beans feed the corn
- Shading plants in the heat of the summer, for sample corn or sunflower shading cucumbers and squash
- Boosting growth in their neighbor, such as tomatoes and basil grown together increase each others yield by 30-40%
- Killing microscopic soil borne disease organisms: chives or garlic planted near roses kill blackspot fungal spores in the soil
- Plant were they belong: Moisture loving plants in dry areas become stressed - and vice versa. Stressed plants are less able to fend insects off.
- Mulch: Use organic material, this and coco mulch, cedar, pine and composted bark must be topped every year. They are retaining moisture too
- Water deeply to encourage root growth, but only once a week in dry
summer. Frequent, light watering makes plants dependant upon the water
and they suffer when it’s interrupted. Best time to water is in the early
morning this way the leaves have the chance to dry off before the noon heat.
Organic mulching cuts back on watering requirements.

Check out these websites: for more info.

Happy gardening!