Organic gardening has been gaining popularity in recent years. At first glance the diversity of products and methods that people apply might come off as odd. Luckily all is well manageable if you keep in mind some key aspects and techniques.
A crucial point in healthy plant growth is an abundance of living organisms inhabiting the soil. Through soil microorganisms the mineral reserves get processed and are presented in an accessible form for the plant to uptake. Organic gardening works to assist all soil organisms including insects and worms instead of replacing them with synthetic chemical compounds. These synthesized fertilizers have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the environment as they eliminate many essential microorganisms, disrupt the natural soil structure and promote rampant growth of weeds. Once these symptoms set in, plants will start requiring more fertilizer to compensate for the poor soil quality, however adding more chemicals would only exacerbate the issue. This snowball effect is ever so harmful not only for this year’s yield, but for the environment as a whole. Using renewable resources in gardening as well as promoting sustainable agriculture is a far better alternative.
Organic fertilizers, compost and mulch
The General Organics Go Box Starter Kit is available [here]
By far the best approach to home gardening is using organic fertilizers. They are made from plant and animal products with the addition of naturally occurring minerals. The application of such products stimulates processes of matter and energy conversion that have been occurring on our planet for millions of years. Once one starts the reaction, beneficial soil organisms quickly get recruited to aid in the process of giving life to the seedlings. This process also enriches the soil, making it more potent for future plantations. Soils treated with organic fertilizers stimulate a deep and strong plant root system. By keeping the earth loose they allow for even and ubiquitous water coverage which in turn spreads out the nutrients so that each plant has equal access to them.
You can find different organic fertilizers on Amazon.
Instead of buying the fertilizers many gardeners take matters into their own hands and prepare compost or mulch the soil.
Picture credit: cleantechopen.com
Both methods have been proven over the centuries to be of great benefit for the growth and health of the plants. Organic material being decomposed by bacteria is commonly called compost. This process creates a nutrient rich product ready to be applied to the soil as an organic, homemade, natural fertilizer.
Image credit: fourstringfarm.com
Mulch is a material that is applied over the soil and especially around the stems of plants. Its purpose is to preserve moisture, reduce weed growth and facilitate a healthy and fertile soil. By far the best material to lay over your soil is tree leaves. They are the most active part of the tree as that is where photosynthesis happens. As such they have high concentrations of plant hormones, growth factors and enzymes that get carried over through the soil. This enhances plant growth and promotes a healthy yield. Other materials that are often applied as mulch in organic gardening are straw/hay or tree bark. Although they are not as potent as leaves, they still provide many of the benefits and are worth considering.
It is important to make a distinction between organic fertilizers or even fertilizers in general and bio stimulants. To present a definition, without going too much into terms, one could say that a bio stimulant is a product that stimulates biological processes. It is in no way a replacement of fertilizers. You cannot grow a good healthy plant without building up a stable compost or laying down a nice mulch. Bio stimulants are also not related to synthetic fertilizers which are notorious for their side effects like killing off helpful microorganisms, burning the roots of the plants and diminishing the soil quality. In fact bio stimulants do exactly the opposite of that. Despite the different brands and compositions they all bring with them the same effects, which to name a few, include:
- Enhancing the properties of the soil
- Aiding the growth of plants
- Strengthening their resilience against environmental stressors
- Fostering the diversity of microorganisms and insects
- The list goes on and on…
All is well and good, but what exactly are bio stimulants made out of?
As mentioned, there are different approaches to producing a good bio stimulant. One remarkable product that is out on the market is a concentrate of ocean water. All of our biological waste eventually winds up into the ocean one way or another. There are some regions where the density of minerals, and biological compounds is greater than usual and people can use GPS to locate them. This is then harvested and further concentrated. The concentrate is ready to apply on the roots, leaves or soil, either sprayed on directly or diluted. Other bio stimulants are also reliant on the sea by using algae extracts. Seaweed is able to flourish in the harsh environment of the ocean – sparse nutrients and diffuse sunlight. Such extracts have harnessed these survivalist properties of algae and carry them over to dry land plant. Another good choice is humic acid, a precursor to humus – the most defining component for potency of the soil.
Many farmers both large-scale veterans and up and coming backyard gardeners regularly use bio stimulants. There are testimonials from people who have been applying the products for over a decade and from first time experimenters. In perfect conditions with good weather, plentiful organic fertilizers and good moisture you wouldn’t notice any difference between a plant grown with and a plant grown without bio stimulants. However in our constantly changing climate such conditions aren’t met very often. Here all opinions are unanimous. In the presence of stressors the plants are able to persevere and bear a high nutritious yield with the help of bio stimulants.
Organic gardening has been the way of the past and in many countries it is a family tradition. If you are just starting to explore this lifestyle or have already started practicing, rest assured that you have made the right decision!