Skip the fertilizer

You can grow healthy plants without fertilizer.

NOFA’s standards for soil offer a helpful description of the process and rationale:

NOFA Soil Standards

There are two approaches to matching soils and plants:

1. We can maximize the diversity of soils and plants and minimize the need to alter the soil by leaving the soil alone as much as possible and choosing appropriate plants for that soil, site, and microclimate; or NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care | 17

2. We (or the client) can decide what plants are desired and alter the soil and site to make them suitable for the desired plants.

The first choice is the more desirable because it minimizes our effects on the environment, and thus the potential for harm from our interventions. In either case, we must avoid practices that impair soil health and the health, diversity, and functioning of soil organisms.

Organic land care follows a holistic approach to plant health, nourishing soil life instead of feeding plants directly. This is accomplished by increasing organic matter in the soil, balancing nutrients and pH, and increasing soil life through the judicious use of biologically active materials such as compost and compost tea.

To reduce our ecological footprint, we emphasize the cycling of nutrients on site, supplemented as needed by local, renewable, sustainably harvested materials, and limit our use of materials that are mined or transported from far away to those that are necessary and not obtainable in any other way.

Soil tests are essential to gain specific information about the soil, and must be performed before any soil alterations can usefully be made.

We must minimize or eliminate any risk of contamination of soil or water with toxic substances or excessive nutrients, whether they are added directly, as with fertilizers, or simply allowed to come into contact with the soil. We utilize natural remediation methods, where possible, to cleanse the soil of contaminants.