Traditional guidelines for garden and lawn care teaches us to feed plants. Of course that is what we need to do but first we need to feed the soil. This is the way nature does it and it works. Let’s begin by understanding some basics. Most of the products out there that are fertilizers are designed to give plants food quickly so you can see immediate results. The problem is that while you feed your plants with lots of soluble N (nitrogen), P (phosphorous) and K (potassium), you can kill all of the life in your soil. Remember Biology 101? Amoebas and things. Well, the soil has a ton of these and more – bacteria, fungi, nematodes for example. All of these microorganisms are designed to feed plants what they need. They break down organic matter (i.s. leaves) in the soil and they have a whole relationship with plants that exchanges what they need for what the plants need and everyone is happy. When we feed the soil, what we are doing is helping the soil support all of these guys so they can support the plants. When we give plants chemical or synthetic food – we kill the biology in the soil and create a long term dependence for the plants on our food supply – not their natural one. We make them addicts. Which is what the big chemical companies want from us so we keep buying their products.
So what the heck does feed the soil mean?
Feeding the soil means that we put down compost and organic matter that needs to decompose. Then the soil biology – those little guys – take over and break down nutrients so that the plants get food. Yes it takes time. But this is the best way to maintain healthy soil and healthy plants because it is naturally what plants are supposed to be doing.