What does “Organic” Mean?
The word “organic”, when it comes to the fruit, veg and even meat, tends to conjure up the idea that the produce is superior in terms of flavour and nutrition. For those who know a little more, it means that the farmer works with the soil and nature rather than working despite it.
While the above is true to a lesser or greater extent, the gap between the two philosophies of growing has closed considerably in recent years. While mineral feeds used to be the default methodology for maximum yields, and organic was the way to go for the best possible quality, today’s feeds mean that neither way of growing means much of a compromise in either yield or quality.
Organic growing means that anything that is applied to the plant is in no way chemical or salt derived. So, only naturally created products are allowed. This means they are generally of vegetable, fruit, or animal origin. The complex nature of these compounds means that before a plant can uptake them, they usually need to be broken down somewhat by microorganisms. This means that they are naturally slow release. However, they are also naturally high in micronutrients and minerals which allow the plant to produce lots of terpenes, oils and medicinal compounds.
Mineral feeds are usually composed of a mixture of salts. Once dissolved in a solution these salts are very easily absorbed by plant roots. This allows very fast growth, but it also means that it is very easy to accidentally overfeed the plant.
Further to this, mineral feeds can leave salt residues in the substrate after a few weeks use. The salt residues in the medium can interfere with roots’ ability to uptake nutrients optimally. If you do grow with mineral feeds we would recommend that you build a flushing regimen into your grow schedule. This will keep down the amount of salt in the medium and ensure that it does not compromise the eventual size or quality of your harvest.
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There’s Much Less Difference Between the Two, Now.
The above is a very quick overview of the important points of each type of feed. Several years ago, there were significant differences between the two types of feed. Mineral was the way to go for yield and organic was the way to go for quality. However, in recent years the gap between the two has closed considerably. Quality organic feeds such as Plant Magic Old Timer and Biobizz will grow almost as much produce as a decent mineral feed. Quality mineral feeds such as from Emerald Harvest or Advanced Nutrients will produce outstanding quality crops encroaching on what can be achieved with organic feeds.
A Few More Notes About Organic Gardening
One quick mention about beneficial microbes in the substrate which are part and parcel of organic growing. As we mentioned before, organic feeds usually need to be broken down, at least in part, by microbes before the nutrients are available to the plant.
Liquid organic feeds actually feed the beneficial microbes (made up a wealth of different bacteria and fungi), and then the microbes break down the food and feed it to the plant. As an added bonus, if you inoculate your soil or grow medium with a quality microbial product, such as Ecothrive Biosys, then you will have a thriving microherd which will not only feed the plant but also actively protect the plant roots from pathogenic microbes which can cause root rot. This is a part of organic gardening and is sometimes referred to as Biological gardening or farming. However, beneficial microbes can be used in hydroponics too and that is still Biological gardening.
Top Tip When Gardening Biologically: It is worth knowing that your tap water will almost certainly contain either chlorine or chloramine. These are added by the water companies to prevent diseases, which can make you ill, breeding in the water before it arrives at your tap. If they are left in the water when you feed it to your plants then the chlorine and chloramine can inhibit, or even kill, the beneficial microbes. You can prevent this from happening by using Ecothrive Neutralise which turns chlorine and chloramine into harmless compounds almost instantaneously. Don’t grow organically/biologically without it!
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