Switching to Organics

The Basis of Organic Garden Care

Many Westchester county residents are turning away from chemicals in their daily landscape care as concerns about continued exposure to children and animals, as well as issues regarding chemical run off into local bodies of water come to the fore. However, stopping the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides alone will not gain you healthier happy plants and grass. Local soils need to be rejuvenated and brought back to life for the health of the garden to revive.

In a natural setting with little or no human intervention, soil processes organic material and turns it into a form that plants can digest. Soil acts as the intestines of the plant world, and very much like human intestines, does this with microbial activity. Most soil in populated areas has less “live stuff” in it than one would find in a forest for example, due to stripping of topsoil in construction etc. If the soil has been treated repeatedly with chemical fertilizer and other chemicals, there is probably little or nothing left in the soil that will aid in the digestion of organics since chemical fertilizer, used at the recommended rates, feeds plants directly at the expense of killing microbial activity in the soil.

In order to create or lawn or garden that can digest organic material more effectively, it is necessary to re-introduce microbial activity. One sure fire way to do this is through regular addition of composted material, and compost tea.

Partially composted material will draw nitrogen from the soil and briefly drain plant material of nutrients so beware. Composted materials, like leaves, mulch, and green waste from the kitchen, must be composted down to the point where you can’t tell where it came from. At this point it is rich in nutrients and microbial activity. Compost tea is made from fully composted material. Basically, as the name implies, a tea is brewed from mixing composted material with water. This tea can be applied to the soil to re-introduce active microbes into it as well as nutrients and trace minerals. Gradually, the ability of the soil to process organic material will increase and plants will be healthier and deeper rooted as long as organic material and active microbes are added to it, very much like eating yogurt adds active enzymes to the human intestines.

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