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Less Toil with Good Soil – Healthy Soil Means Healthy Plants

How did your garden grow last year?
Did you have a bountiful harvest of vegetables?
Any Disease Problems?
Were your flower beds full and lush?

I’m sure some of these questions bring to mind points that need improvement, especially with our clay soils in Illinois.

A common complaint I often hear is:
Seven years ago my veggie garden did great; every year after that it seems to be on a downhill slide. The tomato plants grow large without a lot of fruit and the tomatoes taste lousy! I haven’t added anything to the garden but the usual water soluble blue colored fertilizer. What’s gone wrong? The type of fertilizer that you’ve been using is made of different salt compounds. Year after year of use of this fertilizer had built up salt levels and started to destroy the positive soil microbes leaving a very unfertile planting bed. One teaspoon of compost rich organic soil can host from 600 million to 1 billion helpful bacteria from 15,000 species. On the other hand, one teaspoon of chemically treated soil can host as few as 100 bacteria.

High nutrient concentration from inorganic fertilizers can create an uneven water balance, reducing water loss from leaves causing overheating and burning. Soil becomes excessively dry and damage to plants can occur.

The USDA Natural Resources states:

Soil organic matter enhances soil functions and environmental quality because it:

  • Binds soil particles together into stable aggregates. Thus improving porosity, infiltration and root penetration and reducing runoff and erosion.
  • Enhances soil fertility and plant productivity by improving the ability of the soil to store and supply nutrients, water and air.
  • Provides habitat and food for soil organisms
  • Sequester carbon from the atmosphere
  • Reduces mineral crust formation and runoff
  • Reduces the negative water quality and environmental effects of pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants by actively trapping or transforming them.

Healthy soil contains roughly 25% air, 25% water, 45% minerals and 5% organic matter. While air, water and minerals are important, it is the organic content of the soil that is the primary source of fertility and loose texture that is the hallmark of fertile soil. The organic content is also the only part that can be significantly increased without adverse consequences.

We highly endorse Back to Nature products. Here is a listing of these fine products and there uses:

Cotton Burr Compost – 2 Cubic foot bag

Unquestionably, this is the finest soil conditioner on the market. Cotton compost is prized for its ability to loosen tight, clay soils and improve moisture retention in sandy soils.

Composted Cattle Manure & Composted Chicken Manure – 1 cubic foot bag

Walter Goldenstein, Research Director states “Fully composted, 100% manure, no fillers added, the way manure is stored makes a big difference in terms of the effects it has on the soil. Studies have shown, for instance, the composted manure makes it decompose more slowly, thus releasing nitrogen more slowly into the soil & it becomes more of a soil builder. About 25% of the dry matter from composted cow manure is in the form of lingo-proteins, a marriage of lignins and proteins. As a result, it is very stable and decomposes slowly.”

Nature’s Blend with Alfalfa & Humate – 1 cubic foot bag

A fine screened blend of composted cattle manure, composted cotton burr, alfalfa & humate aids in the treatment of fungal problems in turf and bed areas.

Flower Bed Conditioner – 1 cubic foot bag

A fine screened blend of composted cattle manure, composted cotton burr, feather meal and sulfur. Flower Bed Conditioner works great as a top dressing or soil amendment.

Pesche’s Garden Center offers a great selection of both conventional and natural/organic fertilizers and remember to renew your organic amendments yearly no matter what type of fertilizer that you use.Organically amending your soil is an environmentally sound practice. Organic fertilizers are safe for ourselves, our children, our pets and will help our whole plants future.

Measure your planting beds, make a list of your gardens successes and failures, diseases, insect problems and what you’re planning on growing for 2010. Existing perennial beds, tree and shrub areas can also be amended. Our staff will direct you to the proper products for your specific gardening needs.

Stop in this fall and let’s get your landscape in shape the natural and safe way.

Pesche’s will help you grow green and stay green!

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