Synthetic or Organic?

Poll ended at Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:59 am

Organic Fertilizer and Organic Pest Control
75%
6
Organic Fertilizer and Synthetic Pest Control
No votes
0
Synthetic Fertilizer and Organic Pest Control
13%
1
Synthetic Fertilizer and Synthetic Pest Control
13%
1
 
Total votes: 8
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rainbowgardener
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

I also don't garden/ farm acreage, so am no expert. But I think it is different. Using synthetic fertilizer, you are trying to feed the plants directly, so you have to have X amount of nitrogen, etc. In organic methods, you are just feeding your soil and the life of the soil. The soil then feeds the plants. So you don't have to provide everything they need. So I don't really think you are aiming to have the same X pounds of N per acre added. You are right, that would be immense quantities of organic stuff, since the N values are so much lower. But I don't think you need to do that. It's sort of the do you give a man a fish or do you provide him with the tools to fish kind of thing. If you are giving him the fish directly, you are going to need a lot of fish. Once you give him the tools, you don't need a lot of fish. That is what you are doing for your soil.
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applestar
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

^^^
Good point, rainbowgardener :idea:
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JC's Garden
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

I prefer organic/organic but like the song goes, “You can't always get what you want.”
So …... It depends on the situation.

In my home garden, I have plenty of soil organic content and lots of beneficial insects. I'm organic/organic. It didn't happen overnight though, I had to work for it.

In the garden I have at my 90 year old mother's house, it's different. She's had to slow down a bit and hasn't been able to maintain soil organic content. Some fertilizer is needed to get 'right now' results. She also has a tough time remembering not to use synthetic pesticides. As a result that garden needs more help than I can organically give it at this point in time. I can get it there, but it takes time.
Funny side note: In a Dec. 16th phone conversation she complimented me on a Dec. 14th organic gardening piece I had in the local paper. In the same conversation she told me how she had contacted the folks at a local garden center and got proper 'how to' instructions before using sevin on my mustard and turnip greens. :roll: Oh well.

Sometimes you just have to choose what works in the short term and plan for the long term.

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tomf
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

I have a lot to deal with and it makes it hard to use only organic firtilizer a that I make, but I am not happy with the salty chemical based junk. I am looking at finding sources of organic fertizer in bulk, I buy it in 50lb bags and I buy a few at a time. One of my neighebors with a cattle ranch said I can take all the poop I want,it is a bit messy and smelly although.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

imafan26
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

It is true, over time the soil bacteria will convert and release more nitrogen into the soil and the soil bacteria and fungi are responsible for converting nearly all of the organic fertilizer into a form the plants can use. Because it is a natural proccess, the release is slow, which is good for the soil, the environment and the plants in the long run. But also because it is a natural process, it is not linear or consistent. The season, cold weather slows the critters down, pH, and the quantity and type of community you have whether it is fungal or bacterial will alter the soil environment differently even if different people are using the same organic product.

Growing organic and getting good yields takes at least three years. It is one of the problems I have had with going 100% organic, the reduced size and yield from the crops. I have chosen to go a slower route and slowly wean myself from non-organic. I now have given up regular use of systemic pesticides in my front yard. I did not use them at all in the back. I still use some short term systemics on some plants in the front yard, hibiscus for erineum mites, and roses for disease control in the rainy season. Systemic rose care lasts 6 weeks vs Bayer tree and shrub which lasts a year. I have increased the amount of organic matter I add to the soil and I have used more organic lawn fertilizer as a nitrogen source. It still contains some animal products- feather meal that I don't like, and I have cut my synthetic nitrogen down so now I only add a measured amount based on my soil test recommendation, and I plant a scavenger crop, usually cabbages, after I plant a high nitrogen requirement crop like corn to use up any extra nitrogen. The scavenger crop usually gets no added synthetic nitrogen, only the organic lawn fertilizer. I have planted a diverse garden with nectar and host plants for beneficial insects. I need a toad or two, but they scare me.

Corn by the way, isn't usually bothered by nematodes. Tomatoes and peppers are, big-time. Some varieties of marigolds, sunhemp, and mustard will repel or kill nematodes. If you have nematodes in the soil you either need to plant in pots in nematode free soil and keep it that way, use nematode resistant cultivars, rotate crops with cover crops that repel or reduce nematode numbers like sunhemp, marigolds, or mustard, plant something like corn that isn't as susceptible, or fumigate the soil. Here marigolds are often planted in every other row of edible ginger as a rotation crop. The farms follow strict procedures for sanitation, cleaning tools and even cleaning boots. If a farm becomes contaminated by nematodes, they usually move the farm.

For a farm to be certified organic, they need to practice organic methods only for fertilizer and pest control and maintain a buffer area from anything that is not organic for a period of three years. If you want to sell certified organic and label your product that way there are a few rules for that if you want to call your product organic. The rules are looser for those who are selling less than $5000 a year of organic produce. Farms are also subject to inspection and testing.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

All gardening is local! Imafan is gardening in the tropics and so has a whole different set of challenges!

Everyone has to figure out what works for them in their own garden, but I hope in figuring out what works, people will start taking a bigger picture, longer term view. I read stuff from people who have this whole regime/ schedule of fertilizing every 6 weeks, when to spray this, when to spray that and it all seems like so much money and work. If I thought that was what it was all about, I wouldn't be a gardener...

I get things started and let the garden run itself. I have a couple raised beds in an off-site community garden. I put a lot of work in to them in early spring, getting everything going. After that I mostly just stop by once a month, renew the mulch, pull any weeds that may have made it through, which usually isn't many, replant where anything is done. Otherwise I just harvest. No work gardening, as Ruth Stout used to say. But it does take some work and planning to get your garden to where that works. The community garden has a big butterfly and beneficial insects garden right next to it, lots of bird feeders, native plants around, and a woods not very far in back of it.
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tomf
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

One of my goles is to learn more about pesticide free pest control, I do not use pesticides in my garden.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

imafan26
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Re: The Big Question: DO YOU USE ORGANIC OR SYNTHETIC METHOD

Rainbow is right, where there is a winter, you have a season when nothing is growing and the bug population drops. That does not happen here. Something grows year round and bugs, pests and diseases are permanent fixtures.

I do try to use the least amount of pesticides I can get away with. I try to use water most of the time, because insecticidal soap, neem, oils, etc. they are still pesticides. Most people believe organic means pesticide free and that is just plain not true. The pesticides are different and short acting but they still have to have some toxicity or they would not work.

For people who have small gardens, every inch counts. I have to choose what plants I can grow well and like to eat, taste better fresh, and are relatively expensive to buy. I grow corn because I like corn and none of it goes to waste, but it takes up a lot of space. In that same area I could grow a whole lot more lettuce, beans, Swiss chard, radish and beets, but some of it, especially the lettuce will bolt before I can eat it all unless I only plant a few at a time in succession.

I need to grow heat and disease resistant cultivars that will do the best in my climate with the least amount of pesticides. Some things I just cannot grow because of persistent pests and diseases like phythoptora, nematodes, black rot, and rust. Others like Brandywine tomatoes, I can only grow in special conditions like sterile potting soil in pots off the ground and with a regular fungicide program.

If I want to reduce pesticides, even organic ones, I have to make different choices.

I choose to still use synthetic fertilizer because I still want to maximize yield on my small plot and organic fertilizers still have risks associated with them and they are not as efficient for my needs and they are very costly in a place where 90% of consumer goods need to be shipped in.

I don't believe that synthetic fertilizers kill soil organisms. It does make them lazy. Mother nature wastes nothing. If nitrogen is available the soil organisms will use it to feed themselves rather than waste energy making their own, like the plants, nitrogen is nitrogen, it is still a food source and it does not kill them. It does not harm the environment if only what is needed is applied whether that be a synthetic or organic fertilizer. Pesticides, and deep tilling that is what does kill organisms. Adding compost replenishes the organic matter that was lost when the plants were harvested. In a balanced ecosystem inputs and outputs need to be matched. When plants are harvested, we take resources out of the system and adding back organic materials compost for biomass and organic or synthetic fertilizer for volatile elements that are lost to the system through the air or leaching.

Conventionally farmed fields have fewer microorganisms per square inch than organic ones to start with. If both fields
are tilled, both have reductions in microbe populations. Conventional fields over time do increase the numbers of microorganisms per square inch but they never match the organic fields because they start out with fewer organisms to start with, that should not happen if it was true that conventional fertilizer was as bad as some people claim. Adding organic material as compost to conventional fields help. What really matters is balancing your crops so that one crop replaces or uses less of the nutrients of the previous crop. Home gardeners rarely practice crop rotation.

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