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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to eliminate chemicals in the garden using worms and compost by Mac Pike

*Another great article from Mac Pike. This time he stresses how easy it is to go organic and still have a beautifully productive garden.*

It's so easy to stop using chemical fertilizers!

Gardeners today are keenly aware of the benefits that stem from taking an organic approach to growing their vegetables. They know that avoiding harsh chemicals whether in the form of pesticides or fertilizers is good for the garden, for the gardener and for the environment as a whole.

And yet, growing vegetables uses up the nutrients in the soil; nutrients which fuel those luscious tomatoes and crisp cucumbers. If this situation remains unaddressed the garden patch that was so bountiful the first year or two will slump into a rapid decline in yield from year three and onward. What is a gardener to do?

Growing the soil:

There is nothing inherently wrong with soil amendments as such; it just depends on the composition of these additives. Natural nutrients like greensand, blood and bone meals, seaweed and fish extract, or even fish scraps themselves can and should be added to the garden soil from time to time. But wouldn’t it be great to put a dedicated work force to work on the problem, one that single-mindedly addresses soil fertility issues twenty four hours a day, seven days a week even when the gardener is miles away? As it happens, that work force is right beneath the gardeners’ feet

Earthworms are Mother Natures own little corps of gardening engineers, always ready to give their all to any garden plot. Earthworms churn and aerate the soil, opening tunnels as they wriggle through the earth. These tunnels make it easy for air, so vital for photosynthesis, to penetrate deeply where roots and important micro organisms can use it.

When it rains, these tunnels speed water absorption. Soil with a healthy earthworm population will absorb water as much as four times faster than will compacted soils that are relatively devoid of these valuable garden allies. Just as important, plants send their roots through the tunnels for easy and deep soil penetration.

Self propelled nutrient factories:

Perhaps best of all, earthworms love to consume organic matter, and when they do they excrete it. The results are called castings. These casting are water soluble concentrated organic plant nutrients that can be used by any plant a gardener could wish to grow. As the worm eats and processes its food it concentrates the nutrients the plants need most to a surprising extent. Their tiny palletized castings contain 5 to 11 times more nitrogen, potassium, calcium, more.

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