Organic fertilizers improve soil, future blooms

Well, for all you lucky rosarians who were fortunate enough to get your roses pruned by mid-February, you are probably enjoying (or about to see) your first blooms.

Continue fertilizing. You are hopefully ready for the third application (organic, I trust). As I always say, organics are much better for your soil and ultimately for your garden and the environment.

The soil microbiology is complex and multi-tiered. A healthy garden soil system is teeming with beneficial microbes that inhibit, compete with, and consume disease-causing organisms. This creates a sustainable soil “immune system.” In fact, plants grown with organic fertilizers are themselves more resistant to pests and diseases. In addition, when you feed those beneficial organisms, they feed your roses. That’s because they are busy breaking down organic matter and releasing mineral nutrients slowly and reliably.

Many gardeners become discouraged when they first experiment with organic treatments while still using chemical fertilizers. It is difficult –in fact, almost impossible – to have it both ways. Chemical fertilizers negatively impact the soil food web by killing off entire portions of it. The fact is chemical fertilizers are salts! What gardener hasn’t seen what table salt does to a slug or snail?

Salts absorb water and dehydrate the soil microbes which are the foundation of the soil nutrient system. Once you’ve used chemical fertilizers regularly you must keep adding more because the soil microbiology is weakened and unable to do its job of releasing naturally available nutrients to your plants.

Chemical fertilizers are artificial growth stimulants and, in the long run, harm your soil and pollute local waterways. This is because, as dissolved salts, they quickly leach through the soil (becoming unavailable to your plants) and enter the ground water.

On the other hand, organic amendments (such as manure, compost, or mulch) stay where you put them, break down slowly, and don’t contribute to ground water pollution (as long as you prevent run off into drains). In addition, they improve the soil food web, so in the long run you end up using less product.

How about swearing off chemical fertilizers for the rest of the year and starting to use organics? Give it a year. See if your roses don’t reward you! And when you’ve got a moment to spare, go visit Rose Haven, located at 30592 Jedediah Smith Rd. in Temecula. Also, visit www.TemeculaValleyRoseSociety.org for more information.

Now, let’s get out there and spread the word and the joy of roses!

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