Organic fertilization supports healthy soil ecology that benefits home gardening and landscaping more than reliance on synthetic fertilizers. By definition, with fertilization, we want to enrich the nutrients in the soil. Organic fertilization increases the microbial activity of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes, all components of healthy soil ecology that don’t require synthetic inputs. Synthetic fertilization feeds the plant, not the soil.
Organic fertilizers are more forgiving and less likely to burn plants than synthetics used by non-professionals. Many likewise believe organically grown foods taste better. “Several studies have reported that organic produce stores better and has longer shelf life than conventional produce due to the lower nitrate levels in organic produce,” according to Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “Organic apples are generally firmer and have superior storage properties. Organic potatoes contain more vitamin C. Many studies have found that lower yields, better taste, more vitamin C and higher antioxidant levels in organic fruits and vegetables are correlated with lower levels of readily available nitrogen.”
Although synthetic fertilizers are potent and a quick fix for a slow-growing garden, the widespread use of synthetics is consequential. “The effects of chemical fertilizers on soil include; acidification, which limits the nutrient bioavailability, accumulation of toxic elements like, cadmium, fluoride, radioactive elements, lead, arsenic, chromium, and nickel, and finally disruption of the biology of the soil,” according to Bashar Khiatah, MD. “In regards to human health, the effects of chemical fertilizers are serious, both with their direct toxic effect, or in the indirect effects that are related to decreasing the nutrient density in the consumed plants. This exposure comes from a chemical reaction between nitrites and secondary amines or proteins and causes DNA damage, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and pro-inflammatory cytokine activation, which together leads to increased cellular degeneration and death.”
The frustration for many residential homeowners having difficulty with their gardening and landscape began with poor soil. “Most of the time consumers are growing in backfill from the foundation of their home,” said Sid Raisch, CEO of Horticultural Advantage. “It is not soil, it is sub(beneath)soil. It has value to hold up soil above it, if any was added, but nothing else. It is usually high in clay particles and low in loam (organic matter) and what is there is often anaerobic with little living organisms and void of many minerals. It is very difficult and expensive to change this.”
While many experts in agriculture view plant nutritional needs as elements of the periodic table, others view those exact needs through a prism of interconnected ecology and outcomes. Permaculture and Soil Regenerative agriculture advocates challenge us to live sustainably and leave our ecosystem better than we found it. The critical components of this journey are the reduced reliance on synthetic fertilizers while improving soil microbial health with organic fertilization that helps plants grow strong and healthy.
“Our yard is a thin crust of junk over coral rock,” said Erik Dietl-Friedli, manager at Flamingo Road Nursery in Davie, Florida. “I have literally planted with a pry bar and can dig a well with a stick, since our water table is so high. Over the years, I allowed our garden to become a jungle and left the leaf litter to decompose into the “soil”. This past year I had the jungle removed and have been replacing with Florida native and butterfly plants. Years of leaf litter have transformed our soil into actual soil. Digging has been much easier than in the past and the quality of the soil is much improved. Earthworms and other “Life” are present where there was nothing in the beginning. I will not disrupt this with synthetics. After my garden settles, I will fertilize only with Espoma products. I like that they contain beneficial bacteria in addition to other healthy, organic ingredients.”
Earth Works recommends Espoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus Plant Food organic fertilizer enriched with beneficial microbes and both endo & ectomycorrhizal fungi to support healthy soil ecology for beautiful plants year after year.
“You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.”
― Geoff Lawton
For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, contact us at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.
Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.