Lawn Care and Gardening Basics
By Gordon Petschow, Midwest Environmental Consultants
The goal of most gardeners, turf grass admirers, and farmers is to have the most scenic, productive site. This is to be acquired with least expensive materials, rapid-growing plants, and lowest labor investment possible. This philosophy can be realized if the grower is operating by the rules of nature and accepts the premise that nature is independent, interdependent, and dependent on both the nonliving, or a-biotic, and biotic parts of life. This is called ecology, and the natural world operates with ecological principles.
If sowing of seed or planting purchased plants, and forcing growing plants with toxins like herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic chemical fertilizers and genetically altering food, then success is brought into question because we operate outside the ecological boundaries. Harmful, toxic substances and practices can mutate or kill living organisms that are composed of cells. Cells derive their energy and growth from the variety of minerals, air, and water in the soil. If the cell is not productive because the soil is only stimulated with chemicals and with minimal nutrition, the end result will not be as useful to the grower as it could be, even though there is a large yield. If gardening success is determined by quantity only and quality of food is forgotten, then more study should be undertaken.
The role of water and minerals are part of the life cycle of organisms. What are the basic needs of plants and turf? Air, water, and minerals in balance with each other. A fourth obscure item that is sometimes forgotten is the acidity level in the soil. Let’s examine each item.
AIR. Soil that is dry and compacted does not allow an abundance or air to pass through. Soil that is pliable and moist produces a better crop. To increase aeration it is advisable to mechanically aerate or have live microorganisms aerating the soil. The question is: What method is a labor saver?
WATER. This a-biotic substance works with the air and makes the soil become workable and minerals available to the plant.
MINERALS. They are derived from degraded rock or plant matter and are made available to the plant in solution. They are nutritional servers to the plant working with air and water to bring growing success.
ACIDITY and ALKALINITY. Plants, grasses, and other living organisms have a preferred acidity level. To find optimal acidity or alkalinity levels, soils have to be tested periodically. This knowledge reveals where the plant is most productive.
From considering these individual factors, it can be seen that ecological principles are at work integrating and regulating the outcome of an organism’s success. To force an outcome with chemical means or altering the cell workings can bring detrimental, unwanted consequences to gardening success at some unknown point in time. For best success, go back to the basics.