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Re: Fertilizing/ "Organic" Gardening

Chick wrote:
> Well, not exactly.  The discussion centered on a statement to the effect that
> growing hostas without other plants in the garden is bad for hostas.  I said I
> don't believe it and asked for some evidence that it is true.  

John thinks I'm
> being argumentative, 

Not on this one, I don't Chick, because I am essentially in agreement
with you. I just expressed some other, as it turns out, completely
unrelated views etc.

Butch doesn't like the way I challenge his statement, and
> everyone else starts talking about organic gardening and sustainable agriculture,
> ground water contamination, "continued and heavy applications of synthetic
> fertilizers and pesticides", and so on.

> 1. "Different plants have different nutritional needs."  Well, that's true, but
> have you ever seen a hosta garden where the hostas have depleted the soil of
> nutrients. 

I have never seen one, that I know of, but that doesn't mean it won't
happen. I actually don't see what it would matter if it happened. I
think most gardeners try to grow well, what ever it is that they are
growing. Hosta gardeners shouldn't be an exception to this. I use tons
of composted everything, including city sewage compost (did check their
EPA analysis to be sure there are no heavy metals since we have lots of
ground water here, and lots of springs), various animal manures, 40 year
old shredded hardwood bark mulch, new shredded hardwood mulch, and yes,
various osmocotes, 10 10 10, miracle grow etc. I like the look of the
plants that are given some extra nitrogen!  It really hurt me a lot when
they dumped the first back hoe bucket full of dairy lot stuff in my new

And if so, what companion plants should be planted with the hostas to
> alleviate the problem? 

This may be a bit argumentative, Chick, because you keep bringing it up.
Before you react, now, I completely agree with you, but only because I
don't have any companion plants to speak of; only things like a couple
of bleeding hearts, and a few rhododendruns, lots of ferns come up
everywhere, so many we constantly have to dig them out to keep them from
taking over, and DAYLILIES. I once got mightely chewed out by an old
lady for calling daylilies a companion plant, but that's what they are
in our yard, even though we have hundreds of different kinds. Hostas
grow side by side with them here. The point is, diverse plantings are
less "hard" (whatever that means) on the soil, use less soil components
for their growth, than a monoculture of anything, including lawn grass,
which many people also like to grow well. I put tons of lime on my lawn
here to make it green. That's probably a bad thing, but even the organic
people around here don't tell me it's bad. What they do jump on me about
is the dandylion killer I also use. Hostas, as far as I know, are not
noted for depleting the soil of anything, not even nitrogen, because
there is none around here unless you add it, either manure or chemical.
That's because everything is quickly leached out here due to the
steepness of most grades. Water runs off quickly, and takes everything
with it, even the soil itself if it isn't stabilized in some way.

 As I said, I have nothing against organic gardening,
> except what seems to be a need to solve problems that don't exist.  This has
> nothing to do with mulching or fertilizing, the question is how are hostas hurt
> by being planted without companions.

Hostas are not hurt in the least, but then I really don't think anybody
in this discussion has said that. I haven't seen a single posting that
said hostas were hurt by it! The original point was that "monoculture"
hurts the soil! I think what got this discussion started was the
IMPLICATION that hosta monoculture hurt the soil. I don't think it does.
As I previously said, here in North Carolina tobacco farming completely
ruins the soil. I can't imagine actully chewing or smoking something
that has been grown in all the chemicals that are used on a tobacco

> 2.  "In monoculture, plant-specific pests and diseases might wipe you out in a
> single season."  Again, I agree that that can happen, and again, I would like to
> know what companion plants would stop it from happening.  If they are going to
> get wiped out, it will happen whether or not you have ferns planted with them.
> (By the way, the nematodes will get the ferns too.)  Now you might argue that at
> least something might survive, but I don't see what that has to do with hurting
> the hostas. 

It doesn't Chick, it doesn't, and nobody has ever said it did! They were
talking about hurting the soil, not the hostas!!

 If something is going to wipe out your hostas, the other plants
> aren't going to protect them.

So true, things like Southern Blight don't seem to harm anything around
here except a few hostas, and even it doesn't seem to effect even the
plant growing right next to the one that has the blight.
> 3. "And from a purely aesthetic perspective..." has nothing to do with the
> question.  I'm not saying that you should plant hostas by themselves.  What I'm
> saying is that if you want to, and someone says it's a bad thing to do to the
> hostas, you should be argumentative and ask why, cause it ain't so.

I agree with this. Now Chick, don't come back and say I'm being
argumentative just because I have taken the time to respond to your
points. I agree with most of them, but not all, but that's not being
argumentative. Just staying in the discussion, because I care about the
John Lanier, Burnsville, NC
> Chick
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