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Fertilizing/Organic Gardening


Hi Chick:

   I guess I was responding to two different, but related strains of 
discussion in my post and it probably shouldn't have been addressed 
exclusively to you ... sorry about that.

   I believe a few days ago you mentioned your visit to Van Wade's and 
someone attached the comment attributed to another grower who countered 
comments about his gorgeous hostas to "all the fertilizers and water he uses" 
or words to that effect.
At some other point, monoculture entered the picture and everyone (me 
included) was off and running.

   Attaching the term "monoculture" to the growing of hostas might be 
stretching things a bit as you suggest --- variety in this genus is quite 
large.  However, there can be little discussion that fast growing varieties 
will quickly choke out our slower growing friends when planted in close 
proximity.  

   I don't know that I have ever seen a hosta bed which has been depleted of 
nutrients, but I have seen beds of hostas where many were stunted and showing 
abnormal growth --- could be due to nutritional defficiencies, could be one 
of a host of other problems.  Without quizzing the gardener to death (which 
might be a bit rude) it is sometimes difficult to tell what the problem is 
... 

   I assume you would agree that hostas are heavy nitrogen feeders --- a bed 
planted exclusively with hostas could easily deplete the soil's nitrogen 
content.
This would necessitate the use of chemical fertilizers which provide food for 
the immediate up take of the plants.  My whole point on organic gardening was 
and is that, if you are depending on the microorganisms to create the 
nutrients required and maintain the balance within the soil (which I am), you 
cannot create huge plantings of specimens with identical nutritional needs 
--- while others may feed their plants, I feed the soil.

  With regard to your response to my comments about plant specific pests and 
diseases, I pointed out that foliar nematodes were a poor example and, yes, I 
am aware that they affect ferns.  They also affect azaleas and probably a 
bunch of other plants that we don't know about yet.  I am a little more 
concerned about pests and diseases which may make an appearance in the U.S. 
in the coming years.  The world has become a very small place and new 
organisms secretly enter the U.S. each year in various imports.  I had never 
heard of the Asian Long-Horned Beetle until 6 months ago --- it is believed 
that this pest entered the U.S. at some point in a furniture shipment from 
Korea.  It attacks a variety of maples and other hardwoods and the only 
solution at this point is to cut down the entire tree and destroy it.  There 
are now problem populations of this beetle in New York and Chicago.  It 
doesn't pose a problem to hostas (except maybe to take away their shade 
trees), but I am not betting my entire garden investment on government 
inspectors ... and I am not betting it on my limited knowledge of all the 
pests and plants diseases out there.  Some exotic pests (both plant and 
animal) become a problem for the U.S. because of climates different from the 
one from which they were imported (Kudzu) or because, while the pest was 
knowingly or unknowingly imported, the predator which keeps it in check in 
its original home was not (Zebra mussels).  What we don' t know about today 
just might bite us on the butt tomorrow ...

   Anyway ... in a lot of cases, interrupted plantings can effectively 
disrupt the fast spread of pests and diseases and give you time to 
effectively combat them --- something which is absolutely essential in a 
chemical-free garden.  

  We all have slightly differing, and sometimes competing, gardening 
philosophies and the only reason I brought organic gardening into the picture 
is because it's MY philosphy ... it's a challenge and I just love 
challenges!!!  One of these days when I get the chance to make another visit 
to your nursery, perhaps, if things are slow, we can have a more meaningful 
discussion of our differing philosphies.  In the meantime, your plants are 
doing just great in their new home and you are most welcome to visit them 
anytime!!!

Sandie Markland
Lorton, Virginia 
Zone 7 
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