We can all do our part to keep fertilizers out of creeks, rivers, and waterways. Over-fertilizing with both synthetic and organic nutrients is a much too common practice. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous from agriculture can pollute waterways and may contribute to toxic algae blooms in our local rivers and streams. Additionally, synthetic fertilizers often contain copper sulfate, an ingredient that is extremely toxic to aquatic life, even in small doses.
Healthy soil is living soil! Soil that is teeming with beneficial microorganisms will help to reduce your garden’s need for amendments and fertilizers while increasing your yields. Additionally, healthy soil holds moisture longer, reducing plant stress during the dry heat-intensive summer months.
- When amending your garden soil or fertilizing during the growing season, choose natural and/or organic products to reduce the chances of salt build-up. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggested application rates. You may even want to use less than recommended. This is not a case of more is better! Remember, plants can only absorb so much (about 15% of applied inputs) at one time and over-application of amendments has been linked to many problems including stemrot (Botrytis), molds, powdery mildew, and excessive leafiness.
- Try using compost and compost teas or adding beneficial microorganisms to your soil and tea tanks. Utilizing such products encourages healthy biological activity in soils and increases nutrient uptake while enhancing your garden’s natural immunity against pathogens, such as mold and fungus.
- Install vegetated buffers (grassy swale, filter strip, etc.) around the perimeter of the garden to filter runoff and sediments. Leave and/or install buffer strips of native vegetation downslope of all garden areas to help catch sediment and cleanse runoff before it has an opportunity to enter creeks and streams. Excess nutrients and water can also be captured by constructing earthen basins called “bio-swales” below your garden site.
- See Additional Resources Page for naturally produced and organic fertilizers and amendments, soil-building classes, and doit- yourself compost tea brewing.