might feeding on dead leafIf we return all the leaves, trimmings and grass clippings to the soil and work to increase soil biodiversity, the fertility of the soil will naturally become more balanced.

Organic fertilizers such as fish and kelp meal, and rock dusts such as basalt, granite and glacial moraine dust can be applied without a soil nutrient analysis because they contain a wide spectrum of nutrients in non-toxic quantities. They are perfect during the transition to organic practices, but seldom required in the long run.

There is no need to worry about “correcting the pH” and “feeding the plants”. This happens automatically when we manage our gardens as ecosystems.

Most synthetic substances - pesticides as well as fertilizers - are poisonous to the soil dwelling organisms. In our desire to “feed” our plants, or to rid them of a particularly troublesome “pest,” we kill thousands upon thousands of other animals and microbes, depleting the ecosystem of its biodiversity and resilience. With the depletion of nitrogen fixing bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and their whole natural support system plants become dependent on chemical inputs.

In time the soil becomes lifeless, hard and cracked, prone to erosion, and unable to support the needs of plants. We call this “desertification”. Much of our land base has already become desertified through agricultural and forestry practices that ignore the needs and interdependency of plants and soil dwelling organisms.

We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online