Organics Natural vs. Synthetic The following is taken from "Have Spade, Will Travel" THE ORGANIC PRINCIPAL Our fundamental philosophy is the maintenance of our environment by methods that build and bolster life rather than choosing methods that deplete and hinder. We take the stance that there is always a natural way to approach every issue regarding the care and maintenance of yards and gardens. This is not a new or radical approach, but goes back hundreds if not thousands, of years to before the invention and addition to mainstream culture the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These methods are sound. Tried. True. Sustainable is the new ‘buzz’ word, sometimes being offered instead of natural or organic. Whichever terminology use choose to adopt, the principle can be broken down into three main concepts (as borrowed from Howard Garret): - Omission of toxic pesticides - Omission of synthetic fertilizers. - Use techniques and products that build and maintain soil life.
Sustainability, in a general sense, is the capacity to maintain a certain process or state indefinitely. I have often used the term ‘chemical’ to describe fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides. Recently I was corrected by a scientist who reminded me that everything is made up of chemicals, so I have changed my vernacular to ‘synthetic’. The use, even just occasionally, let alone on a regular basis of synthetics in our landscape can create very unsafe environment for us, our families and pets. Unlike organic garden products, synthetic products used in the home and garden have been proven to cause cancer and many other illnesses in people and pets. Landscapes that utilize the organic concept require less time and material to maintain. They use far less water, and become naturally resistant to disease and insect problems. Flower gardens are lusher and more floriferouse. Lawns are thicker and greener. Fruit and vegetable gardens, while not producing exorbitantly, increase in quality and nutritional value.
It is all about the life in the soil. In a healthy teaspoon of soil there can easily be a billion microbes. These little guys break down stuff, usually organic material, and process it into a form that can be taken up by all plants. Most synthetic fertilizers don’t feed the microbes what they want, so no more than twenty percent of a synthetic actually makes it to the plant…the rest goes off to pollute waterways. Organic fertilizers are utilized one hundred percent by the microbes, more bang for your buck! The single best thing we can do for our microbes is to give them compost. Compost is raw organic materials mixed with manures and broken down to a point where they unidentifiable. As little as a quarter inch spread over a lawn can cut water usage by as much as twenty percent! The more you want out of an area, the more compost you should use; One or two inches in a flower bed each season, or two to six inches total, over the course of a year, worked into the soil of your veggie garden between crops will keep our soil loose and friable.
As good as compost is for feeding the microbes and encouraging their activity which helps to loosen the soil, we still need to feed. You will find that the longer you are involved in the organic process the less fertilizer you will use. I compare compost to the best salad bar on the planet, as food for the microbes, but a good balanced fertilizer is steak! We fertilize three times a year; Fall is the most important, spring is the follow up and the optional summer application is just to make the neighbors jealous.