For many years, the concept of artificial improvement dominated every field of human endeavor, including the fields in which flowers or fruits and vegetables were grown. The concept of laboratory-created chemical fertilizers seemed viable at first, creating bumper crops of domesticated plants across the landscape and outperforming organic approaches. However, as we have seen, these chemical fertilizers take a heavy toll on the health of our soil and water.
The concept of using organic fertilizers on fields of fruits and vegetables is an ancient one, but concentrated, specific chemical fertilizers that are developed in isolation from the natural landscape fail to account for the natural balance of healthy soil. Soil types vary by region, giving character to the flowers, fruits and vegetables grown in them. They are a complex balance of regional sediments, mineral elements, and nutrients created by the decaying plant and animal matter accreted over millennia.
Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants: The Organic Approach
Living soils are home to complex ecological webs that include many plant and animal species routinely driven out of large agricultural fields of flowers, fruits and vegetables. When this occurs, the soil becomes depleted in ways that no lab-developed fertilizer can remedy. However, we must eat. What can be done? The simplest solution to the current issue of soil depletion and degradation by agriculture is to help replenish the soil’s natural balance of nutrients by utilizing organic fertilizers.
Unlike their laboratory counterparts, organic fertilizers encourage thriving crops without overburdening soils with excess minerals, such as phosphorous and nitrogen. They help to repair and improve depleted soils over time, while encouraging the growth of healthy, thriving flowers or fruits and vegetables. The basis for this approach is the use of high-quality, organic compost. Much like the uppermost layer of a soil profile, compost material consists of decaying plant matter in various stages of decomposition.
The gradual release of essential nutrients into the soil works with the natural capacity of fruits and vegetables to absorb and utilize the fertilizer. When chemical fertilizers are applied, they overburden the soil, rendering it toxic to many of the beneficial microbes, microorganisms, and other beneficial species. Because flowers or fruits and vegetables cannot conceivably use these massive doses of nutrients quickly enough, they leech down into the groundwater or are washed into streams and lakes by rain and irrigation.
This damages the environment in two distinct ways. First, it leaves the soil poorer than before, requiring even more fertilizer in order to sustain the same output of fruits and vegetables. Second, it promotes the growth of invasive plant species in aquatic systems, which compete with the natural ecosystems for resources and living space. Viable ecosystems rely on the balance between elements within the system. This is known as equilibrium. Chemical fertilizers disrupt this equilibrium and may actually pose a threat to future food security, because the abundance of flowers or fruits and vegetables they produce is not a sustainable aspect of a viable ecosystem.
Agriculture Began In a Garden
Human cultures have cultivated fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Flowers have also formed a part of many subsistence schemes, though, until recently, they were fostered for their dyes and pollens. Indigo, woad, and saffron are three examples of floriculture. Until relatively recent centuries, decorative flowers were not a focus of intentional cultivation. However, today, growers of flowers such as tulips and other desirable species form a respectable portion of the agricultural community.
In fact, the agriculture practiced thousands of years ago bears almost no resemblance to the massive monoculture systems in place today. Prior to the formation of cities in the Fertile Crescent—before cultivation began along the banks of the Nile or the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, before the Olmec plotted pyramids along the Pacific coast of Mesoamerica or the Greek city-states formed in their isolated valleys—agriculture was practiced in a style very much resembling a garden. Small scale farming of flowers, fruits and vegetables, while significantly more technologically advanced in reality, has more in common with the original agriculture than the vast stretches of monoculture practiced by industrial farming corporations.
Today, successful organic gardens may be relatively small in size compared to these massive single-crop fields. However, even the larger, privately owned farms that grow flowers, fruits and vegetables are looking to organic practices as more sustainable than modern chemical-supported farming techniques. This means utilizing intercropping strategies, where complimentary species of fruits and vegetables or flowers support each other. It also entails allowing biotic communities to regulate themselves to a large extent, and forgoing the use of harsh pesticides.
Bordering fields with hedgerows that attract birds to prey upon insects and employing naturally pest repellent flowers amongst crops are two organic practices farmers are reinstating in order to reduce reliance on chemical pesticides. Using organic fertilizers based on rich compost material act to strengthen the soil. It fosters communities of beneficial bacteria and insects, so predatory organisms can’t get a foothold.
Tailoring Your Formula
Because soil varies regionally, and the needs of your particular flowers, berries or fruits and vegetables will also demand special care, obtaining a current soil test from the local branch of your state agricultural department is a good start. At McGeary Organics, we’ll use the results of this test to custom craft a special organic fertilizer that perfectly suits the needs of your flowers, berries, fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re the neighborhood Plant Whisperer who always has a squash or a bag of pole beans to share, or are going into business of organic farming for yourself, McGeary’s offers you a fertilizer solution that is both organic and effective.
McGeary’s Organics is an ideal partner for the organic farmer. Our 2-3-4 and 5-3-4 formulas are ideal for fruits and vegetables, flowers, and berries. Plus, because they’re based on organic composts, they aren’t liquid and will never burn your plants with harsh chemical compositions. Working closely with the team at McGeary’s will enable us to provide you with the perfect fertilizer for your region’s soil type and your crop requirements. Even if you’re only gardening for pleasure, McGeary’s will help you nurture your flowers, fruits and vegetables in a way that nature intended, with organic compost-based fertilizers that are gentle on your plants and the earth you love. Our company has worked hard to maintain a natural standard for our fertilizer blends. We proudly meet guidelines for OMRI and USDA Organic products.
Farming fruits and vegetables, berries, or flowers requires intensive dedication and more than a little vision. We exist in a milieu that has trained our tastes for unblemished apples, symmetrical potatoes, and flawless blossoms, all delivered by the instant truckload. Organic fertilizer works its magic at a natural pace, not a manufactured sprint, and provides produce you can be proud of, because it’s truly good all the way from field to table..