A perspective on why we need to change our thinking on common gardening practices by Better Organix


February 10, 2016 Andy Dominic

With increasing reports of a loss of nutrient value among much of our farmed produce and the tied in human/animal health stories that are undoubtedly correlated, continued environmental hazards such as, global warming, water table pollution, soil carbon erosion, loss of quality top soils and increasing land unfit for human food production, you might like our team wonder if some of what we have been taught as best method with regards plant/ soil management, shouldn’t in fact be reconsidered in light of the rates of increase in many of the above problems in recent years. 

Despite our collective and continued practice, led by farming schools and the agricultural industry “experts” over many, many years, we have in the most part, consistently failed to address the tail off in crop production, quality and more, we are losing land faster than ever with the UK soil Association putting the rate of soil loss in the UK alone as costing the economy there around two hundred and sixty million pounds annually, with this predicted to continue to rise, and farmers some nine million pounds sterling a year in lost production. If you think this is just happening in the UK, then take a look where you live and you will likely learn its just as bad if not worse.

We cant kick ourselves too hard about whats done, just take a minute now to search out a solution for a really common gardening problem, that of soil acidification. What was the majority consensus from our friends at search engine central? I suspect it was applying garden lime right? May be you’ve been applying garden lime anyway, and you do this each year you grow? Not to be rude here but, there is a name we have in our office for the more on, more on approach. I suspect you can guess what that might be as a reader. 

Of course the debate is slipping from practice to philosophy briefly, but returning to the practice of applying lime, the advice which you will have been returned via the gatekeeper that is Google, Bing or other via the power of SEO (manipulation of data and its appearance and or frequency as a popularity contest, rather than any genuine guide for solid advice) is largely wrong, misguided and about the worst way to manage an acidic soil 99 times out of 100. 

Unless of course you dont mind sick plants, like paying for lime and spreading it on your land as a way to avoid the Sunday dinner and washing up there after, or you work in the lime industry, have shares in lime or some other motive. If you want to control the acidification of soils, you must first understand the reasons behind the slipping pH of soil and any and all of the contributing factors as to how and why this occurs. Now we are not sitting here saying lime is never a solution, but if you need it, then shame on you, because you have likely had plenty of warning ahead of this need and simply getting one crop to completion is not the end of farming, we must therefore always be thinking ahead; what is this practice storing up for us?

At Better Organix, we think we have some idea as to whats gone wrong and why. What we can fix, or at least have some part in we have vowed as a collective to deliver, what we cant do on our own, is break the responses of users based on the popularity of hundreds of search engine returned pages referencing an understanding of soil and plants that was, and is still limited by chronology. Most all of the data regrading liming or sulfur flower applications to control pH is simply not accommodating our increasing ability to study all things at deeper level today using technological advances, and as such, these returns to our online or other queries are being misrepresented, and the good new sense being crowed out in favour of more common less relevant data. As a consequence we all likely make mistakes when reacting to problems we all face as gardeners and plant lovers. 

Better Organix have considered a system that addresses many of the past errors of gardening with a more rounded approach, but in creating the products and use guides we wanted to keep it familiar, so in practice our system is not hugely differing from existing practice, certainly in how we as humans interface with our plants, gardens, or even farms today.

What does this mean? Well, you still use your watering can, your spade even your tractors if you have them, all those good things us gardeners enjoy. You will on occasion still add liquid and measured feeds, but the Better Organix system is a total re wiring of the processes involved in feeding plants, morphed in to a system that feeds soils and soil biology first. This rethink is what makes the Better Organix system so different to the myriad of products you already see sold today as plant care systems, this would include many of those labelled organic.

During the course of our journey with this blog, we will go in to more detail about how and why soil profile collapse occurs, this in turn will help clear up the confusion and advice regarding practices to lime or apply sulfur to soils, to roto till the land or some other old school dominant practice we might follow or have followed. 

All to often in gardening we do things because thats what we were told in the past. Today, and in light of the continuing threats to our food supply etc, we must do better and we can with Better Organix. Together we really can make a difference as home growers or farmers on a bigger scale through the adoption of practices, linked to todays research. 

By using the example of how soil systems function, how pH is maintained in nature,  and how the constant turning over of land via tilling practice increases our risks of a reduced or lost harvest and useful soils, we hope to educate readers, or at least be a spark of conversation and learning desire in you the reader and your connected groups, so we can together start to really counter some of the problems past practice has left us managing today. 

We hope it might clear up some known itches in the gardening community and beyond, especially those convinced that synthetic forms of nutrients, eg. Nitrogen are better options, but lets say this from the outset, this is new science, if you are a keen grower, you are just as likely to find the next big thing to help all of us grow better tomorrow. For now we hope to be a stepping stone, and of course point of knowledge sharing and access for any and all those interested in better plants and foods, healthy soils and the environment. Oh and if you still think synthetic forms of plant food are best, check out this latest research on the destruction of soil and carbon via such common additives.

We will use the discussions in this blog to introduce you to some of the products we have been working on at Better Organix and show how a deeper knowledge of nature is helping us solve some of the problems most of us growers face at one time or another. 

We can continue to produce abundantly healthy crops and plants, while delivering on the unsaid promise of being more gentle on the land, but we have to rethink how we have been doing this to date and we need to bring what is currently new and largely unknown by the home grower, in to something of an every day practice. Tomorrow farmers are in todayś homes and they are learning all the time from us the parents and beyond.

Again one of the things driving us is the finite and unsustainable practice of much mineral and synthetic farming and gardening practice. We have wasted many tonnes, more hours and diesel, spreading harmful minerals on the land, when in fact some of them, are valuable outside of farming. Sure we get growth over the course of the year, but the impacts are accumulative and often go unchecked before catastrophe.  

If we take the example of Phosphorous (P), we can clearly see a downward trend in both available plant forms of P in our soil systems, and that we can mine from the earth for other purposes. As I type this now, I have the power of elemental P enabling me to type at a PC and then share this data electronically over the Internet. Some of you will already know, phosphorous is a crucial element in medical healthcare systems and in many other aspects of our life, and so we might have a hard time if we just continue to use it wastefully in farming and gardening. 

There is a constant recycling of elements such as phosphorous in natural systems, as plants and insects etc die, organisms in the soil reclaim the decay in to forms suited to power new life. Every year the seasons and weather ensure an abundance of organic matter, and so with the right biology present, we can safely say there will always be a bounty of growth powering elements available to our plants. Knowing this means we can cut back on added P inputs and save ourselves and nature a heap of headaches in between. 

Anyone familiar with adding P to soil systems, will undoubtedly be aware of its reluctance to remain in a plant ready state. Indeed, out of every input of P solution we add to our soils, only around 15% ever makes it way to our plants, the rest moves into forms that are less plant available, in Alkaline soils Calcium tends to be a favourite, in acids, it might be Aluminum, both calphos and alphos are not great for plants, so with the lions share being left as fixed phosphates our plants are largely unable to access this matter alone. 

The more P we add, the more P we need just to keep the levels of plant available ready, so its really a self defeating method of application. 

By far the more rounded way to apply P to plants is by using a combination of Mycorrhiza fungi and specialist phosphate solubising bacteria. This means we can begin to clean up the fixed P we have already applied since these soil workers can help us break the bonded phosphates in to constituents, these can then be made available once again to our plants. Simply pouring on Phosphorus will never realize the total fixed P we are generating with each application.

Here in lies the “not so secret” technique of how traditional fertiliser sales people continue to create the idea that as growers we need them and there products to make it to harvest. We aren’t saying society should not allow them to have a role in the plant experience, but If we only consider water soluble nutrients, then we are missing the wider picture of the sum total of matter we can access in biologically active, organic systems such as ours.

More, by ensuring the right biology, we can cut back on the costs relating to the application of fertiliser in the future, and by ensuring we maintain some above ground biomass after harvest and or by planting cover crops between our higher value produce, we can then allow this biomass to rot back naturally, decayed by microbes and fungus we provide in our range, this will enable your future crops to access all the hidden treasure this matter contains, this will include sufficient NPK for pretty much all crops we grow in nearly all circumstances and it will continue to add humus content, reversing the trends of soil erosion.

Microbes in the soil have been cycling the bed rock of our planet for billions of years, mobilising this bounty of minerals in to plant ready forms in our soils. This is happening right now under our feet and is a 24/7 365 days a years process. Only human interference has prevented this activity from being seen with the true value it enables, until now.

All of us growing plants have a role to play in natural growing systems and this is not a small mission when we add the weight of modern healthcare and communications, soil erosion, nutrient loss in foods and environmental pollution into the picture, but whatever your plant choice and setting, how you grow can truly have a wide resonance with the wider world. Just being organic isn't enough if we fail to get results and yield. Whatever we do moving forwards, this is something we will, and do need to consider, yes its true that higher density nutrient foods mean we can eat less and be satisfied, but we still have a growing population overall, so its our duty to maintain or increase whats achievable.

What we can say about plants, and this is all plants in all systems, they direct up to 30% of the energy created via photosynthesis, in to the root zone. Of this, around 20% is portioned and released as exudates, root leakage, much of this leakage is used to attract a plethora of life and elements which work in symbiosis with our plants. Given the perfection of natures design, we see this apparent energy waste as a sign that it is for all our benefits. Only those of you growing in biologically active systems will be able to capitalize on this design today. It is highly likely that many of your plants defense systems are boosted by this arrangement with microbes, certainly we know of bacteria and fungus which deliver both bio control of pathogenic molds and rot causing fungus, while tempering leaf bitting insect populations and other known plant pests.

What we can say about healthy soil microbe populations is, not only will your plant have access to the nutrition they need, and at all times given sufficient organic matter which we include in our range to help, that these wonderful soil organisms will help us prevent soil profile collapse, maintain a healthy local pH suited to all elements, help limit damage from environmental stresses and pests, scavenge free radicals, both cation and anion forms preventing them interfering with our soils largely natural negative charge, limit nutrients leaching in to the wider environment, helping to maintain a better balance and reducing outside known hazards such as the pollution of water systems.

Our products can be used as a whole system or as stand alone boosters where individual needs require. 

Everything we make here at Better Organix is from organic sources and all contain the very highest natural forms of ingredients to encourage optimum levels of plant growth and biological activity. We minimize hazards such as nutrient leaching with the inclusion of biology and this lifts us above most other systems. 

We mitigate the accumulation of free radicals and or the uptake of toxins and heavy metals in both soils and plants by taking advantage of the many attributes of soil, water and plant micro biology and organic acids and humates.

Lack of biology is the primary reason we find systems where soils profiles have or are collapsing, and in these areas, we also find poor plant health, or unwanted plants, poor yield, low nutrient value, lots of pests and problems.

All of our products, although coming with some mind bending nature and theory, are all really simple to use in practical terms, requiring no specialist equipment or training/ skill level to apply. We believe this makes it a near perfect solution for gardeners of any level or physical capacity. Just about anyone with a pot, some soil and a seed will be able to jump on board. 

Further, what we hope will happen, is that you will begin to question what you do today, and consider how you can better help your own local soil systems, your plant growth and health, the local wildlife and wider environment. Our products not only help you growing winning plants, but they will also help us all repair some of the damage we have metered out on our soils across many years.

There are many instances of healthy, natural plant systems all around us, from grasslands and scrub, to forests, even those untouched areas of our own garden spaces, and it is within these systems that Better Organix is finding many of the answers to todays common crop and environmental problems surrounding plant growth, health and production. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this introductory blog, and that you might follow us here as we continue to shed light on the new ideas forming in the BioOrganic space. It has been a truly wonderful gift for us to be involved with plants, soil and biology, and we have poured our love in to everything we do here in return. 

We hope those of you trying our products will keep in touch with us and let us know your experiences, here or via or Facebook site. We are very open to you contacting us for advice and support which you can also do via these channels.

For now we wish you continued successes with your growing,


Better Organix

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