Let me preface what I am about to say by pointing out that, although I am
a "hard core" organic gardener on a personal level, I am not a wild-eyed
zealot intent on bringing the "better living through chemistry" heathens into
the light. Organic gardening is not for everyone ---- it is time consuming,
labor intensive (check the price of organically grown produce at the local
grocery store) and involves quite a bit of "learning the hard way."
Continued and heavy applications of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
do have an extreme and lasting effect on the health of the soil. They burn
and eventually kill off all of the microorganisms essential to good soil
health and structure --- the soil is now barren and the plants grown there
are dependent upon the continued application of chemical fertilizers in order
to grow and thrive --- if the feeding regimen is stopped,
the plants will probably die long before the soil can "rebuild" itself.
The discussion of monoculture did get just a tad out of hand --- and a bit
One of the reasons monculture works so well for food crops (aside from the
fact that the feeding regimen can concentrate on a particular plant's
nutritional and moisture needs) is that high production is dependent on high
fertilization rates (fertilization as in the setting of fruit, not feeding).
In the ordinary home ornamental garden, this is not an issue.
A couple reasons why I believe monoculture in the home ORGANIC garden is
not a prudent practice ........
1. Different plants have different nutritional needs. A garden bed of any
single type of plant is going to use up certain types of nutrients during the
growing season and "ignore" others. In the organic garden, you simply cannot
apply enough organic material to the soil during one season to replace what
is being depleted. Even if you could, soil dwelling creatures may not be
able to process it quickly enough to match the needs of the plants. A
variety of plants with a variety of needs and benefits helps to alleviate
2. In monoculture, plant-specific pests and diseases might wipe you out in a
single season. Plant a hosta with foliar nematodes in a bed full of hostas
and, within a year's time, they will all be infected. Nematodes are really a
poor example because they do affect some other plants as well and there is
still so much that we don't know about them --- but I think you can
understand what I mean. There has been a tremendous explosion in the use of
hostas in the home garden in recent years. Who knows what problem pests and
diseases may be imported or simply develop in the future.
And from a purely aesthetic perspective, nothing makes for a more
beautiful, textured shade garden than the combination of assorted varieties
of our magnificent hostas with heucheras, carex, liriope, ferns, brunnera,
pulmonaria, Japanese maples, asarum, etc, etc.
For what it's worth ...
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