Tuesday, April 21, 2009

doing the organic thing

-disclaimer- i havent been too hip on the organic bandwagon, but when presented with personal evidence to support something i usually do.

historically, i have been a user of miracle-gro fertilizer on my vegetables. why?, because it worked - and my grandpa used it so i had no qualms. who can argue with success? listening to farmer fred on the radio the past few years, he has been an advocate of dr. earth products and with the info i have gleaned i am leaning to a more balanced approach to feeding my food.

i know these are fred's paid advertisers and fred needs these to stay on the radio. lord knows i need to have my weekly gardenside chat with fred - as such, i am a believer in supporting the sponsors of my favorite radio shows. thats how they stay on the air and its a win-win symbiotic relationship for us all.

so in 2008, i used for the first time, dr. earth's organic 5 tomato, vegetable and herb fertilizer. i figured what the heck, i had nothing to lose and possibly more to gain. i applied it on a weekly basis - possibly more often than recommended - but being organic, i had no issues. i noted not one difference in crop performance - on the upside or downside; thats good so at least i know it works as well as the miracle-gro. one thing i had hoped to improve was the occurrence of blossom end rot.

i know blossom-end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency - brought on by erratic watering. although i water at 2 times a week, filling the bowls around the tomatoes several times during a watering - so i dont see my watering as erratic - but the tomatoes dont lie. i noted a high calcium content of dr. earth and thought that might improve the free-calcium in the soil, making it less of an issue for plant take up.

(btw, foliar calcium sprays probably dont do as much, if anything, as university research suggests calcium isnt absorbed thru the leaves - gleaned from ff some time ago)

well, last year i got my typical blossom-end rot, in the normal numbers - and i can usually trace it to a sharp spike in temps when the tomato was formed. so dr. earth didnt help with that. but one BIG difference i did see was when i actually pulled the plants last fall. the root system of the tomatoes were incredible. i have never seen such a well developed and spreading root system - and this was across the board for all tomato plants.

so this year i am doing it again. its dr. earth for me in the garden. everyone always has a cost threshold - and yes dr. earth is more expensive than the synthetic fertilizer i have used for years - but this year, is my first year to use my recently finished raised beds and my goal is to keep those beds as naturally fertilized as i can.

so between the dr. and my own compost i generate - i hope it will work out. will keep you posted on my results.

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