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Our Agronomist, Tommy Cowett, provided this article – “Romancing the Lawn”. We’re proud to share it with our readers.

We are living in a re-evolutionary time for gardening. Getting back to the ancient ways of gardening like the Korean farming techniques from 2000 years ago. Still to this day, whole communities in Korea get together to make big batches of natural fertilizers and pest control products. EM1: Effective micro-organisms and IMO: indigenous micro-organisms are two products I have learned to make at home and have taught courses and shared my knowledge on how it’s done.

Romancing-the-lawn-SoilI advocate for healthy lawns, landscapes and back yard vegetable gardens. At the same time, we all see the need to protect the environment from over use of synthetic fertilizers and conventional pesticides. A new focus and understanding of the soil is changing the way we garden. In fact some of the technology developed in our back yard gardens has recently made its way into modern farming.

Hate to say it, but we have been doing things so wrong for so long when it comes to fertilizing our lawns and gardens. The over use of synthetic forms of fertilizer over the years has damaged the soil by losing the balance in the microscopic-organism population. I experienced this first hand with the family garden we had growing up. Over use of synthetic fertilizers caused the soil to become compacted, weed infested and unsupportive of good plant growth. The soil died.

As a territory manager for GrowinGreen, I visit a great number of properties each year, and I see this damage in problem lawns and gardens all the time. We can now fix it through new technologies that date back centuries. At GrowinGreen, we spend a great deal of time researching and testing new materials that are friendlier to the environment and produce healthier lawns and gardens. Our mission and purpose is inspiring people to love their lawns and gardens.

If you’ve heard our radio commercials with owner Jonathan Rigsbee, aka the “Turf Commander”, he mentions that he has a Turfgrass Scientist on staff, that person would be me. I don’t like to brag about my credentials. But, for the sake of qualifying myself as an expert in this column I will mention a few. I have over 30 years experience in the landscape and nursery business, a Masters degree from NCSU, I am a certified Master Gardener and a licensed Pesticide Consultant.

One thing I have come to realize through all this education and experience is that Mother Nature is in charge. In order to be successful with our gardens and our lawns, we must assist her. When it comes to repairing or building the soil, we can practically kick back and let her do all of the hard work. I kid you not.

Look at the forest; no one ever needs to fertilize the forest. It is a self-sustaining system where plants grow, plants die, the decaying trees, plants and leaves return to the soil and the cycle repeats itself. The forest soil is actually teaming with microscopic communities of life known as “The Soil Food Web”. In this underground world, there is something known as the rhizosphere. This is an area in proximity to the roots where beneficial micro-organisms, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa and other larger things like earthworms live. The micro-organisms get sugars, carbohydrates and protein from the plants. The tiny bacteria and fungi contain fertilizer. As the larger protozoa, nematodes and even earthworms digest the bacteria and fungi, fertilizer is released to the plant.

Mother Nature has made this deal between the plants and the microbes in the soil. The plants feed the microbes and in turn the microbes feed the plants. Through this process of growth and decay – we build the soil. In order for this process to work, it must be in balance.

Romancing-the-Lawn-CompostingWe, as gardeners, have the ability to add organic products to our lawns and gardens that contain these micro-organisms, it is simply called “Compost” and, to me, compost is King. This is where we, as gardeners, can help Mother Nature in the garden and the landscape. One of the best ways an average household can make a good amount of compost for use in the garden and lawn is by composting your leaves. You will need approximately 70% leaves to 30% of a green material such as grass clippings, vegetable scraps or in my case I use Bunny Poop. From the compost, you can make a compost tea or simply spread it in the garden.

If you would like more information about gardening go to GrowinGreen.com, or visit the YouTube channel to see easy DIY videos on how to make your own compost as well as home made products containing living micro-organisms.

One thing I like to say about gardening today is “It’s not Rocket Science but we’re trying”.

Thanks Tommy!

Jon&Clover