Background: I've been gardening in one form or another since I was a child in the 60's. I helped my first wife study for her degree in ornamental horticulture in 1974. Due to an unfortunate quirk in my memory, I can still spell, pronounce, and identify Schinus terebinthifolius and probably 50 other ornamentals growing in Southern California in the 70's.
Nine years ago I started a compost pile behind the garage. It quickly became a home to many invertebrates including worms, ants, grubs, flies, and others. They are all welcome as long as they're working to the same goal - eating leaves and leftovers.
We have a canopy of Texas Live Oak trees providing 90% shade year round in the front yard. The back yard canopy is elm with 90% shade for 9 months. The only grass that will grow in San Antonio with all the shade is St Augustine.
I started organic gardening in 2001 by using corn meal to treat roses for fungus. It worked and seemed to wipe out my aphid problem. So I tried it again the next year along with some corn gluten meal on the turf. All that worked, too. So I tried some corn meal on some spots I didn't know what the problem was and it cured the problem there. So I've not been gardening organically all that long, but I do listen hard and read a lot.
I've recently become a soil food web student under Dr Elaine Ingham. I think she is on top of the situation with her analysis of soil bacteria and fungi. I have watched Jerry Baker on PBS and generally like his homegrown approach; but I think some of his ingredients are detremental, if not poisonous, to soil bacteria and fungi. Still, though, if your ranch has a couple million head of well-fed microbes, the poisons should dissipate quickly. Bob Webster, Malcolm Beck, and Howard Garrett are my Texas sages. I don't always agree, but I listen hard to everything they say (on KTSA radio, 550 AM, on Saturday and Sunday mornings).
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