Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

Our Commitment to Healthy Soil

Soon our mailboxes will be inundated with potential lawn company contracts and glossy new plans for providing us with jewel green lawns.  Some lawn companies advertise a “new” natural approach without harmful chemicals and some even advertise organic practices. The phrase “Let the buyer beware” comes immediately to mind, as I once had a company say they would provide an organic treatment but switched to chemicals “by mistake.”

How do we navigate through the complex lawn care issue? Each spring, homeowners, condo owners and townspeople decide how to best care for outdoor spaces. Ask yourself the question, “Am I building healthy soil with my choices of lawn and garden care?” The sustainable solution for supporting everything that grows is to ensure that the SOIL is ALIVE.  Unfortunately, pesticide and herbicide applications kill most of the soil organisms whose job it is to feed the roots of trees, shrubs and grass, and that’s just what happens under the soil. These same pesticides and herbicides damage life above the soil as well, affecting children, adults, pets, birds, bees, and beneficial insects. The suffix “cide” means, “the act of killing.”

A commitment to building healthy soil is first accomplished by doing a soil test to see what your soil needs. Without the important benchmark of where you start, how would you possibly know what to add? I find it rather curious that a 4-step program for everyone implies that each yard has the same soil conditions and requirements. Would you go to a doctor that prescribed the same prescription for everyone no matter what the health of the patient? UMass in Amherst has a lab that will analyze a one-cup sample of your soil for as little as $10. We are happy to discuss soil testing with you by calling our office.

Come to one of our workshops to further investigate organic land care, or stop by for a healthy discussion of how to increase the biodiversity in your yard. Do some research on various sites such as: beyondpesticides.org, nofamass.org, ecolandscaping.org, and greenscapes.org. You’ll be surprised to find out how simple it is to use compost to bring your yard back to life or enhance the biology you already have. Encourage your neighbors to join you in following organic practices. Billions of microbes, fungi, beneficial bacteria, and various microscopic soil organisms will do the hard work for you, and you will be rewarded with a “living yard” that is safe for all.

This post originally appeared in Spreading Roots, the Friends of Holly Hill Farm’s member newsletter. Not yet a member? With the spring growing season just around the corner, now is a wonderful time to join! Click here for Membership information.

© 2014, Cindy Prentice. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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