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Organic Column (First) Dallas Morning News - Newsletter

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First Organic Column in the Dallas Morning News - Re-Visited

In 1989 as my career in organics began, I wrote the first column on my new passion of organics. Here it is as it appeared in the paper almost 25 years ago. We still have critics as we did them, but we now have a large part of the population on our side. I think this year will be special for converting the world to organics.


I'm an ex-golf course superintendant, ex-landscape contractor, ex-nursery owner and ex- maintenance contractor. I'm a current landscape architect, author, homeowner, home gardener, husband and father.

I'm also a current "born-again' organic landscape gardener and I've spent a great deal of time over the past few years learning about my new passion. That is, how to use more natural techniques and products in lieu of chemical ones.

Five years ago, I was using completely different landscaping procedures, and as a result, I have empathy for those homeowners and landscape people who mistakenly think they are doing the right thing. What changed my thinking about the safety of landscaping maintenance products was the birth of my daughter. It was at that point that I seriously started investigating the less toxic and more horticultural sound, alternatives.

What I hope to do with this weekly column is to try and help readers understand that there are landscape maintenance procedures that are financially sound, environmentally sensitive and safe to wildlife, pets and children. Additionally, I hope to show you that the natural techniques are fun and really work so that, ultimately, you'll have a garden that's more beautiful and more manageable than you ever imagined.

The terms "natural' and "organic' will be used often in these columns. These words are interchangeable in my opinion and have no pure meaning or definition. The terms "safe and non-toxic' also will be used often and they too are not pure definitions, but rather are relative descriptions to compare against other more widely used products.

The philosophy of organic landscaping is simple to carry out but sometimes a little harder to understand. The secret is the health of the soil.

Healthy soil - as opposed to dirt - is alive and constantly changing, growing, decaying and moving. It also has billions and billions of living microorganisms per square foot. That's not a misprint!

On the other hand, poor management and the overuse of artificial products have created a high percentage of sick and weak soils. These soils have been over-fertilized and over-sprayed. They have been eroded and no recycled organic matter has been added to continually rejuvenate them.

Using Mother Nature's technique of raising the level of organic matter in the ground can bring weak or dead soil back to life. Decomposed and composted organic material will add microorganisms, provide humus and humic acid and encourage earthworm repopulation.

If you try my safer alternatives for a few months, you will soon be hooked on "organics.' For now - here's a good way to start. It will soon be time to start mowing your lawns, so plan to stop catching the grass clippings - let them lie where they fall.

Here's another tip. If aphids show up on the new tender growth of plants, spray them with a mild solution of insecticidal soap and water. You'll be amazed at how effective this safe alternative is.

Congratulations - you're on the natural way! More later.

If you have any questions on this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am (CST) to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. Listen on the internet or find a station in your area. The phone number for the show is 1-866-444-3478.

Please share this newsletter with everyone in your address book and all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help me spread the word on organics.

Naturally yours,


Howard Garrett

P.S. If you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area, come see me this Saturday or Sunday at the Northwest Georgia Home & Garden Show.

Join the Organic Club of America.


Membership supports TORC.

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