Friday, April 29, 2011

Chapter 24 - Should You Be Feeding Your Plants Fast Food?

"Everyone says I should use compost to feed my plants - not synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Grow."

Just like humans, plants are what they eat.  
Think of synthetic fertilizers as fast food and organic matter (like compost) as slow food.

Fast food will jump start your annuals with lots of show-y color.  Many people use products like Miracle Grow with excellent results. 

But, in our gardens, we've found that by the end of the season plants fed with synthetic fertilizers are exhausted from all that rapid growth.  

Annuals, are not expected to live another season so it doesn't matter if they get all played out.

Slow food, on the other hand, produces strong, healthier plants that may take longer to grow but produce better in the long run.  They do better under adverse conditions like drought.   Healthier plants are less subject to disease, too. 

Plants grown on slow food are stockier with thicker stems and leaves.  We prefer organic matter for feeding all our plants - even the annuals.

In addition to compost, we love to mix chopped or crumbled brown leaves into the soil for new plantings.  We just let the leaves fall where they may to winter over and keep the ground toasty warm. 

In the spring, the leaves have dried out or started to rot which makes them the perfect addition to our beds.  We rake up what we need and add it to our beds.  A great addition for container plantings as well.

Cost is another consideration when choosing between synthetic and organic feedings.  Synthetics are very expensive.   Organic matter is free or very low cost.

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