Many of our gardens have lots of vegetables and great blooms, but are they sustainable? What happens when chemical fertilizers are too expensive to buy and the pesticides no longer work or are just too dangerous for unlicensed users? A simple answer is to go green and move away from them now so that the problem will not affect our gardens and they will be better and healthier for it.
Chemical fertilizers have allowed commercial farmers to grow lots of food on small acreages and to have the same crops on the same land for long years. Unfortunately too many hoe gardeners have adopted the same practices when there is really no need but the same harmful results occur.
Picture a fridge full of varied foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and cheese. Now a vegetarian eats from the fridge. She is happy and healthy as long as the food is varied and lasts. Once the fruits and vegetables are gone the eggs and cheese keep her looking good but not feeling so good as before. Once the meat is all that is left, the fridge may look like it has food, but not for her and unless it is resupplied she starves.
The same thing happens with one crop on the land for too long. It consumes all the food it likes and then starves unless resupplied. Chemical fertilizers only supply the largest nutrients but not all the vitamins and minerals plants need, the micronutrients that are no longer int he soil. Crops look healthy but they are weaker and susceptible to disease and insect damage.
The answer is to grow healthy soil, filled with organic matter that chemical fertilizers will not supply. In other words, lots of compost is needed. This simply rotted plant material from a diverse set of sources will contain lots of micronutrients as well as the big three. In addition it will allow the nutrients to be more readily available to the plants as it allows better oxygen and water movement through the soil.
While it is possible to feed the soil too much chemical fertilizer to the point where it will poison the plants it is supposed to help, it is extremely difficult to have too much compost in garden soil. Also, chemical fertilizers wash out, often into nearby water tables, streams and lakes, while compost becomes part of the soil itself and is already available in nature.
Getting the compost is as simple as piling up the household and yard waste until it rots into the substance organic gardeners call black gold. It save money as chemical fertilizers are no longer needed and saves health as healthy plants fight off diseases and insect damage so that dangerous pesticides are not needed.