Dallas Morning News - December 26, 2019
Basic Organic Program and Why
Why does anyone still use toxic pesticides and high-nitrogen salt-based fertilizers?
Because that's what they learned, that's what they understand and they are confused by the organic terms.
Maybe the hardest thing about getting folks to switch over to the "Organic Approach" is the use of different terms. Anything new seems complicated at first, but the non-toxic approach is actually easier than using the chemical methods and products. The Natural Way works better in every way.
Establishing healthy, biologically active soil is the key. Applying only inputs that benefit the life in the soil is critical. A good thought process is this – before buying a gardening or farming product, ask yourself if it will help or hurt the earthworms and the microbe life in the soil. If the answer is it will help, buy the product and use it freely.
If you use nothing but compost and mulch, beneficial microbes will flourish, the soil will get healthy and plant growth will thrive. My complete program simply works better and gets you to the point of excellent plant health faster.
Basics are simple once you get use to them, but flexibility is important. If you don't follow my schedule exactly, things will be fine. One greatly flexible part of the organic program is that fertilizing can done be any month of the year.
1. Stop using all synthetic fertilizers, toxic pesticides and other synthetic chemicals that harm beneficial life in the soil and on the plants. High-nitrogen fertilizers are salts and harmful to the soil. Nitrogen-only products are even worse. There's no carbon in these products. Toxic pesticides are - well, toxic - plus there are many wonderful non-toxic choices that work as well or better.
2. Build soil health with compost, rock minerals and sugars, along with shredded native tree trimmings mulch. Fertilize 3 times a year with organic products such as Good Natured, Espoma, Medina or other TORC (Texas Organic Research Center) approved products. Ideal timing is early spring, early summer and fall. It is completely acceptable to make the first application in January or February. Some gardeners feel that is the best timing because it starts the building of life in the soil earlier.
Rock minerals and dry molasses
Whole ground corn meal
Spray the foliage of all plants with the mixture we call Garrett Juice. You can make it yourself or use commercial products. Some people do this monthly, but quarterly or even once a year will give good results.
3. Use common sense. Plant native plants and well-adapted introductions, water deeply and wait as long as possible between waterings, use non-toxic pest control products and cover the bare soil with quality organic mulches. But, it is equally important to keep mulch (and soil of course) off the flares of all woody plants.
Water only as needed. The organic program will reduce the requirements. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water (or Garrett Juice mixture) when watering potted plants.