As organic gardeners, we’ve long known the value of maintaining healthy soil. It’s the key to successful growing and the means to avoiding the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Keeping our garden soil in top condition by adding plenty of compost and other organic matter, using cover crops and mulch to protect it, and doing all we can to promote healthy microbes, fungi, and other living organisms that promote the restoration of nutrients, goes a long way in assuring successful gardening without environmental harm.
Organic gardeners know that soil is alive and must be treated as a living organism. Treating it with harmful chemicals and poisons, otherwise known as herbicides and pesticides, takes the life (and therefore the productivity) from the dirt in which our crops grow.
If you’re looking for the fastest ticket to a lush garden, start at ground level. Planet Natural offers a large selection of amendments, potting soils, inoculants and testing kits to help you produce healthy, productive plants year after year.
Wait, some argue. How do farmers who forego the principles of healthy soil get harvestable crops year after year from the same patch of ground? Drug addiction makes an appropriate analogy. The addict who slowly poisons himself stays alive with continued use. He may be dying inside, but sticking that needle in his arm keeps him going. Likewise, injections of fertilizer and pesticides keep crops alive. But the soil they grow in, stripped of nutrients and the organisms that naturally sustain life, is dying.
This slow death is seen in the effects of erosion, the loss of soil’s ability to retain moisture, and its ability to nourish plants in a way that helps them resist pests and disease. Consider applying the principles of organic growing a sort of soil rehab.
That’s why your dirt-loving Planet Natural blogger has been heartened by the rise of interest in soil health over the last few years. More and more information about the importance of soil microbes has become available and even farmers, hooked on products from Monsanto and other chemical-agricultural companies, are turning to sustainable farming methods that not only restore soil health but save them money.
Here’s a video that demonstrates how change is coming. Farmers from North Dakota and North Carolina are shown exchanging information and learning about the use of cover crops. The significance here is the results. Even the skeptics among them see the value of planting cover crops, how it makes for better moisture retention, something so important in these times when the ebb and surge of drought is mostly surge. They learn how cover crops protect soil and prevent erosion. They discover how the use of cover crops helps shaves off the cost of fertilizer and the cost of fuel spent in applying them.
They’re also learning how cover crops protect the environment. Not only do they stop the loss of soil from wind and water erosion, they keep harmful nitrates out of water supplies and halt the spread of the pesticide poisons that not only harm wildlife, from mammals and birds (especially birds), but our own health as well. Restoring the health of our soil through organic practice may even go a long way towards dealing with climate change. Win-win situation? You bet.
New studies on the importance of soil microbes to soil health are coming in from around the world. Major universities are focusing on soil issues. Even the U.S. Congress — yes, that U.S. Congress — is beginning to take note of the importance of conserving our soil.
Organic gardeners can pat themselves on the back for long knowing the importance of soil health. And we can look forward, as studies come out and commercial farmers start turning from conventional, chemical-laden farming practice to natural ways to improve soils and crops, to new information and the better growing that will come of it. Of course, the small, local, organic farm revolution has been setting the standard for years.
We resolve, here and now, to pay close attention to the turn away from conventional, chemical-heavy farming and gardening in the coming year. And you! If you’re new to organic gardening, it’s time to get started. Those of you already involved . . . keep the faith!
Kelp Meal (1-0.5-2)
Derived from Norwegian seaweed and infused with beneficial microbes.
Use for large blooms, strong plants and nutritionally dense greens and vegetables.
Alfalfa Meal (2-1-2)
Add to flower and vegetable gardens to boost plant growth and blooms.
Humic Acids (Granular)
Harvested from a huge deposit of decomposed plant life from millions of years ago.