conservation landscape practitioners for a healthy Bay
conservation landscape practitioners for a healthy Bay
On the doing of 'real stuff', Temple Grandin speaks truth to power, and to the powerlessness we mire ourselves in with endless 'abstractification": Policy makers with no experience on the ground with the things they aim to regulate, mathematical abstractification to create the "next credit default swap": these are the ills of our age.
I admire the plain spoken, the direct, the radically honest, and those whose craft leads them to create things of both beauty and usefulness. Temple Grandin is one of our heroes here on the farm, helping us see things as others see them: specifically, how cows see and process visual information and react to it: either calmly, or, not so calmly.
Today I spent 5 hours working with locally grown flowers, including some from my own garden, for a wedding; the ritual bathing of the stems in warm fresh clean water, the careful plucking of errant and unwanted leaves, the blocking of blooms by colour in buckets in shade, then in the cooler: violet campanula, fuschia gomphrena, magenta celosia, magenta phalenopsis orchids, plum and silver heuchera amethyst mist leaves, white orchids, white lysimachia, white achillea, white valerian, white and green false solomon's seal, the white spires of four foot tall pacific giant hybrid delphinium, the rounded cerebral shapes of 'annabelle' hydrangea in white and young fresh green, glossy green camellia leaves, the shock of the chartreuse heuchera 'citronelle'.
These hours grounded me back in the world of tangible, beautiful, and intricate things of Nature, the way with flowers requires a simplicity of Mind: to make a Bride's bouquet as she has dreamed of it, to make each vase hold flowers so that their complex beauty is a calm oasis for the eye in the swirl of a wedding party.
After getting to some sort of milestone with elected officials on a multi year design project, the respite was real. The design project was one so deceptively DIFFICULT, made so by endless abstractification by so many entities.
What could be simpler and cheaper? to clean up the runoff coming from urban and suburban roofs, driveways, yards, gardens in our #Chesapeake Bay watersheds (in our case, the Rappahannock), than to do it at the source, one yard at a time?
As it turns out: nothing. The obvious answer IS the correct one. The old ways, from Agricola to the CCC to permaculture, are still the best. Empirical and close observation of historical examples are more instructive than all the PDF's, tomes, trainings and mathematical models in the world.
But the ABSTRACTIFICATION of this obvious result by regulators, legislators, planners, city managers, stormwater engineers, soil scientists and model-makers is one of the most daunting educations I've ever undertaken: partly because of the acronyms, dependence on mathematical models rather than historical examples and what we already know works. It's positively Corporate in the endless torpor it generates.
The most difficult challenge of the process was not the constraint of using existing design methods, practices, and systems, applied to a tiny suburban lot with an oversized house on it and nothing but turf and a single tree on it.
The most difficult challenge was simply sticking to the simple task of avoiding re-inventing the wheel. If there are existing methods that have been shown to work, use them, and observe the results, rather than abstracting to something else.
We seem so addicted to making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good, and the Abstract the Enemy of the Practical and Useful. The result is a hovering helicopter like buzz: failure to launch - because we cannot ever get beyond the abstractification to create what Temple Grandin calls 'real stuff' coupled with failure to land - generating more and more options of where to fly and where to land, while burning fuel.
Thank you Temple Grandin for pointing out one of the useless vanities of our age. Given the applause from your young student graduating audience, it seems your admonition to 'create real stuff' hit home.
Young people want to do real work, real play, and make real contributions with their hands, hearts and heads. Despite being seemingly addicted to tiny devices that lead them into hours of abstractification, this younger generation seem to want to experience the real, the gritty, the useful, and do seem to want to have clean water and living streams, Bay and ocean. Give them a ploughshare, and they will use it. Give them an app, and they will use it too. Sustainable ag and farming in general is au courant among the young just now, perhaps for its geeky allure.
Give people a reason, and give them a job: cleaning up the streams of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in 6 states and DC by cleaning up their own little acre, one yard at a time.
Our green design team is acquiring acronym alphabet credentials behind our names at a clip. Gentle Gardener Green Design team collectively now comprises 4 Virginia Certified Horticulturalists (VCH), 2 Virginia Society of Landscape Designers certified designers (VSLD) 1 LEED* Green Associate, an MBA, a certified permaculture designer, the firm is licensed in Virginia as a Nursery Stock Dealer.
The latest credential is in: I am now certified by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a Nutrient Management Planner for Turf and Landscape, No. 714. We planners appear to have no clever acronym, but given how challenging the exam was and the prep class, I will probably answer to"Certifiable NutMan".
Taking our lead from agriculture, where conservation and Nutrient Management Plans have been in use for a good 20-30 years by farmers who are stewards of their land (and also poor
, unwilling to spend a penny more for fertilizer than they have to) , those of us certified by the Commonwealth to write plans for urban (that is, non-ag) turf and landscapes, have a tall order ahead of us. With sub/urban sales of fertilizer at some eight times the rate per acre of ag N and P and increasing right through the recession at about 6-8% per year, plus conversion of ag land to developed, it's no Miracle that our water quality problems Grow and GroW.
Virginia recently submitted its second draft Watershed Implementation Plan to reflect the myriad bottom up, stream by stream, watershed by watershed, plans by localities to clean up the entire #Chesapeake Bay drainage (VA is not alone; water 6 states and the District of Columbia drain to the Bay).
The Commonwealth of Virginia has just committed to managing over a half million acres of private and public sub/urban (that is, non-ag) lands via Nutrient Management Plans written by certified Nutrient Management Planners for Turf and Landscape. Right now, only about 15,000 acres of such lands have written three-year plans. In five years, by 2017, VA intends to have over 350,000 acres of private and public non-ag, sub/urban turf and landscape responsibly stewarded by three-year Nutrient Management Plans........twenty times the acreage we have now.
In January a small publication named The Wall Street Journal published the findings of the study indicating that the cleanup of the #Chesapeake Bay is, in fact, a jobs creator. We certainly intend for it to be so; we would like our clients and others to spend more on Gentle Gardener brainpower to write nutrient management plans for them based on sound science, and less money on over-fertilizing with nitrogen and phosphorus without a plan.
For a Nutrient Management Plan and sustainable site maintenance plan custom written for your landscape, please call 540 832 7031 or book at www.gentlegardener.com
Here's a copy of our media release for Historic Garden Week - let's make an historic leap forward in protecting soils and water in Virginia!
SUSTAINABILITY NEWS APRIL 2012 - for immediate release
April 17, 2012
BARBOURSVILLE, VA - Rockwell attains certification credential for stream-friendly landscape planning
Virginia R. Rockwell, owner and principal designer of Gentle Gardener Green Design, has been designated a certified Nutrient Management Planner for turf and landscape by The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Stormwater Management. The certification demonstrates a planner’s expertise to competently compose and execute nutrient plans in line with the Commonwealth’s efforts to reduce fertilizer runoff from residential gardens, lawns, athletic fields, golf courses, commercial landscapes and university, town, city, federal and Commonwealth-owned lands.
A written plan for maintaining turf and landscape sustainably over three years is a new service now available to clients of the established Barboursville firm’s certified landscape designers and horticulturists. Gentle Gardener has long advocated responsible land stewardship practices including the use of proper and organic amendments, accurate rate calculations and precise application timing.
“The idea is to apply brains first, then apply fertilizer as needed. These practices improve effects on waterways, soil, plants, animals and people,” said Rockwell. She explains that runoff nitrogen and phosphorous in streams can be curtailed; Virginians can spend less by applying only what is truly needed, and improve the health of ecosystems and economies downstream. “Nutrient management planning makes good economic sense. We all depend on clean water for life and livelihoods,” she adds.
The goal for Virginia counties and cities whose streams drain into the Chesapeake Bay, as described March 30, 2012 in the latest Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, is to rapidly increase the acreage of turf and landscape managed with Nutrient Management Plans written by Rockwell and her fellow certified nutrient management planners to more than a half million acres.
To learn more, please visit www.gentlegardener.com and www.dcr.virginia.gov/vabaytmdl/documents/baytmdlp2wip.pdf.
Media inquiries can be directed to Ann P. Reid at (804) 501-9888 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soil testing is key to a successful, healthy garden and plant life!
Soil testing tells you about nutrient and organic matter content, and what the soil can provide in terms of nutrients prior to fertilization. You want to feed the soil, not the plant. It's important to get that 5 percent organic matter into your soil where roots are beginning to establish, and keep providing the living organisms with more organic matter so they can break it down for plants in a helpful way.
Soil tests are conducted by public and private laboratories. The Virginia Cooperative Extension lab at Virginia Tech is a public lab available for those of us living in Virginia.
To collect your own soil sample, first obtain a Soil Sample Information Sheet and Soil Sample Box from your area VCE office. You must indicate which plants or crops you plan to grow and immediately mail to the VCE lab at Virginia Tech via Priority Mail with the U.S. Postal Service. Click here for detailed instructions.
A soil analysis costs about $15 per sample, plus postage. Test results take about a week. VCE will mail a copy of the report to you, your designer, horticulturist or landscaper and county extension agent. A flat rate box is now just over $5 and holds up to four samples.
The lab will:
There are also reputable private laboratories available through certified nutrient management planners. The clients of private labs are primarily farmers who have long been required by their conservation plans to do nutrient planning to keep streams healthy. Planners take samples, send to the lab, analyze results for what you intend to grow, map the tested fields using Geographic Information Systems, compare with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Survey. They can tell you exactly what to do and use, how much, and when, precisely by field, area or crop to be grown. Golf courses in Virginia and public lands are now required to adhere to nutrient plans.
Understanding what lies beneath what we see in our gardens is the critical step to successful planting. Not only do we want to plant more plants to cover and protect the soil to keep it from eroding and washing into streams, we want to boost the soils to help plants flourish.
are the ideal companions to streams and the Bay, protecting waters better than anything else. Your mission in the garden, should you choose to accept it, is to help make your garden soil function as well as the forest floor.
Problem is, most of us don't live or garden in forests anymore. Since the Dust Bowl era, we've learned to quantify the wisdom of ancient farming practices used before World War I. It took the Dust Bowl for us to get it.
As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Survey, most soil science textbooks identify ideal, living soils as being made of the following:
- 45 percent minerals (rocks broken down over the millennia)
- 25 percent water
- 25 percent air
- 5 percent organic matter/biologically active/living matter (humus, compost, decomposing leaves)
Think of the soil structure in terms of layers. The minerals and organic matter are only half the story, but an important half. They provide and make nutrients plants need to produce their own food.
Organic matter and air are near the surface. Minerals, rocks and bedrock are further down. Plant roots need to be able to tap into minerals and water in the lower layers.
Nothing gets to the roots without water.
The final critical component of healthy soil is air. Yes, air. Soils could be squeezed together into a clay-like ball if bulldozers or heavy equipment have ever been present on your property. That could result in a lack of air needed for healthy root and plant growth.
Soils in our area that have been disturbed by construction only absorb 75-85 percent of rainfall, according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Virginia Runoff Reduction Method worksheet. These soils have 15-25 percent stormwater runoff along with sediment, phosphorous and nitrogen that plants could have used on land.
Restored and reforested soils capture and absorb 95-98 percent of rainfall. Only 2-5 percent runs off into the Bay.
If you don't know Dr. Leila Denmark's remarkable story, here 'tis. She doctored my 3 nieces, I toiled with her grandson Steve, (hey Steve!) in the noble caring profession of advertising and marketing for a large fizzy drinks co. in GA, and I used her books and wisdom when our daughter Stella was born. Yes, breastfed. No pacifiers (she spit them out). Yes, introduced one new food a week at 4.5 months after she began to salivate - not teething as we are often told - but signaling the digestive system's readiness for food in addition to breast milk. And yes, sweet potatoes were the first food, that nutritious miracle food known mostly to Southerners it seems, with no processed sugar or ---eeechhh----marshmallows! required.
Be inspired at this story. http://www.npr.org/2012/04/06/150149102/doctor-blazed-trails-for-women-in-medicine
I bow deeply to the wisdom of Dr. Denmark and the mothers, grandmothers, doctors, midwives, nurses, doulas and other healers who carry on the work of caring for our children.
Each February the Piedmont Landscape Association in central Virginia creates a Valentine to the plant world and its workers: the growers, designers, plantsmen and plantswomen who paint in plants.
This year's PLA winter symposium featured Dr. Doug Tallamy of the University of Delaware, author of Bringing Nature Home, a Timber Press release, and now, a re-release. Dr. Tallamy and other stars of the horticultural world enthralled over 600 gardeners in the packed Paramount Theatre on the downtown mall in Charlottesville; in Tallamy's case, with pictures of - gasp! - caterpillars.
These action shots of caterpillars consuming native plants - most photographed in Tallamy's yard - were an unlikely inspiration for those who are often asked by clients to pick, smash, burn, poison, explode or just deter those caterpillars from eating any single leaf on 'their' plants. And as a result, many years of accumulated experience go into creating plant 'palettes' for 'low-maintenance' landscapes based on plants that have little appeal for these caterpillars; in other words, we prepare a banquet for our own human visual and sometimes olfactory entertainment that is also made to be un-appealing and dis-tasteful to these creatures.
Dr. Tallamy and his students research and publish the links between the food needed, and food provided in the regions where we live, particularly the midAtlantic. Critical to the entire food chain in any ecosystem are the plant genera that support the greatest numbers of lepitoptera and other 'bugs' in each region. Plants, large and small, feed the critters, and they in turn feed the birds, and on and on. Eventually, we too are fed.
At a time when food, and eating local, is tres chic, au courant, de rigeur, the zeitgeist, we often deny the birds in our flyways the same opportunity. We lay a banquet of foreign, strange and sometimes unappetizing material for them, and tease them with 'melting icebergs' of large expanses of foreign, clipped, never-blooming turf grasses, dotted with single 'specimen' trees and shrubs from other places, rather than a knitted-together community of native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, grasses and forbs. And of course, the berries and other snacks on the foreign shrubs that birds DO find appetizing, end up being propagated by them. In the right conditions, these invasives then roll like a mighty tide right over the native plants. Think berberis (barberry) hosting increased tick populations in the woodlands of New Jersey and southern New England, and privet (ligustrum amurensis) colonizing the piedmont and coastal plains of South Carolina and Georgia. (There is a singular virtue, after all, in clipping privet hedges into rectangles: denying birds the berry/seed to propagate an invasive pest).
So. What? you say. So, many thanks to Dr. Tallamy and his researchers for providing a list of the top 20 woody trees and shrubs and top 20 herbaceous perennials, grasses, forbs for supporting biodiversity in the midAtlantic. This single page handout was worth the price of the day's admission. We now hand out this list at speaking engagements and to each client in our initial landscape design consultation. Gardeners and designers love lists: look at the back of any catalog.
My teacher at Kew, the British landscape designer and writer John Brookes, opened our History of Garden Design lecture with a deceptively simple statement: "Gardens are a product of the culture in the time and place they are made."
Your landscape designer, gardener, landscape contractor and maintenance crew may not tell you they have suddenly converted to stewards of the ecosystem in your yard. In fact they will probably be quite reticent on the topic. But stealthily and steadily they will begin to suggest different plants, native replacements for the Norway maples and other strangers in your midst.
A generational shift that began in the sixties and seventies will shift almost all gardens in the midAtlantic in the next decade. Individual single family homes with individual yet identical turfgrass lawns - the archetypal American expanse - limitless, with no walls or hedges to define each suburbanite's plot, will become right-sized and sized for a purpose.
Grass? Who needs it? Well, children do. Players of sport do. Those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder do, Rather than the development default, turfgrass lawns will become one design element, but by no means the most important element, of the designed landscape. Our gardens will be designed for people, yes, as Thomas Church so rightly pointed out, but also for a more permanent, sustaining culture, not just human culture. Permaculture speaks of forest gardening, and Bill Mollison's most exciting lectures in our permaculture design course were of 'weaving', 'stacking' or layering productive systems on land and water as Nature does.
Could it be that we are on the verge of unifying our notions of beauty with a reawakened sense of stewardship?
If so, we have a few important teachers to thank, and Dr. Doug Tallamy is among them. A deep, prayerful bow seems the right expression of gratitude.
The twenty woody plants, and the twenty herbaceous perennials, grasses and forbs, will inspire us this spring in this blog and in our design work for some time to come.
Virginia R. Rockwell of Gentle Gardener Green Design, will launch an educational campaign entitled 'Is Grass always the “Greenest” Choice? Sustainable Alternatives to Turf Grass for Healthy Gardens, Waterways, Rivers and Bay' via a lecture on Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Central Regional Rappahannock Library, 1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, VA. The free event is hosted by the Master Gardener Association of Central Rappahannock Area and open to the public.
Rockwell will discuss beautiful, sustainable options for turf grass, design elements and new legislation concerning phosphorous levels in commercial fertilizers. Good gardening choices and practices have a positive impact upon waterways. Rockwell will show attendees how to achieve a garden as pleasing to nature as the eye.
Virginia R. Rockwell is a certified landscape designer, horticulturalist, Association of Professional Landscape Designers member, Virginia Society of Landscape Designers member and LEED* Green Associate. For more information about Rockwell and Gentle Gardener Green Design, please visit http://www.gentlegardener.com/green. To learn more about MGACRA, please visit http://www.mgacra.com. Media inquiries can be directed to Ann P. Reid via e-mail at Annpreid@gmail.com.
*Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Lawn fertilizer misuse is one of many factors degrading water quality in Florida and summertime fertilizer bans may not be a quick-fix solution, according to an updated report released this week by University of Florida scientists.
"Healthy #turf grass loses almost zero nutrients when it’s fertilized and irrigated according to science-based best management practices, or BMPs."
And now to scrape together the funding for the Nutrient Management Education Fund provided for in #VA HB1831 headed to the Governor's desk for signing into law...
Leslie Middleton, the executive director of the Rivanna River Basin Commission, said individuals can play a role by voluntarily making choices to have a smaller footprint.
“Our choice of fertilizers, our choice of how much lawn to have, our choice of how to build our driveways, all of those kinds of things are very important,” Middleton said.
Parrish said efforts to reduce pollution have been working. In 1985, 102 million pounds of nitrogen made its way into the bay. By 2008, that number had fallen to 72.8 million pounds.
“The bad news is that we have to make almost that much of a reduction again to get to where we need to be for the bay to be restored...”
Good news from the oldest continuous lawmaking body in the New World, the Virginia General Assembly: Legislation that bars the Virginia sale of fertilizer containing phosphorus for use on established lawns has passed both the House of Delegates and state Senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
wel, it's l not the bill virginia green industry proposed going in, but in the process, we got something. biggest problem is this bill has 'holes' you could drive a truckload of phosphorus thru if you are an average reader of N-P-K on fertilizer bags.
Not only did the General Assembly miss the opportunity to push everyone to #soil test before applying anything anywhere, they missed the opportunity to make some money for the Nutrient Management Education Fund (we proposed) by levying fees/fines on anyone applying P to maintain lawns without proof in form of a soil test within 3 years demonstrating that it is NEEDED!
for my 16 March talk in the #Rappahannock River watershed:
"Is Grass Always the 'Green'-est Choice?
Beautiful, Sustainable Alternatives to Turfgrass for Healthy Gardens, Soils, Streams and Bay."
Sarah McKay, Orange 4-H teen and Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School Senior, invites the public to attend a Sustainable Agriculture seminar on Saturday, February 26th, at the Orange Train Depot in downtown Orange. The event will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and is free of charge. Participants will hear from featured speakers of Retreat Farm and Virginia Cooperative Extension about local food production methods now and in the future, as well as tips for your home garden and a demonstration of nutritional smoothies you can make at home from your own garden. The seminar is part of McKay's year-long Senior project for BRVGS. For more information, please call 540-212-3663.
Sustainable Agriculture seminar
Saturday, February 26th
Orange Train Depot, Main Street, Orange, VA 22960
free of charge
Plants require 12 mineral nutrients that are essential for their growth and development. A shortage of any one element will result at best in stunted and poor growth. The plant however needs the various minerals in differing amounts. Phosphorus, together with Nitrogen and Potassium, being consumed in relatively large amounts, is considered one of the macro elements.
#phosphorus occurs in nature and is crucial for growth. As Walter Reeves,#MG Cooperative Extension master gardener teacher at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, taught us, here's how to read a fertilizer bag:
N P K "UP, Down, AllAround":
N=Nitrogen which greens plants UP, gives them top leaf/stem growth for more photosynthesis so they can feed themselves...
P=phosphorus, which plants need to go DOWN with root development to survive drought, provide a strong foundation for top growth and for bloom development...
and K=potassium, which is crucial to ALLAROUND vascular growth.
I'm no soil scientist. "UP-DOWN-ALLAROUND" is single most important thing I learned in MG training.
The finer points of how addding highly concentrated phosphorus fertilizer to alkaline soil creates a concrete-like farming disaster in developing countries and elsewhere, I learned from Bill Mollison in training to be a certified #permaculture designer.
Most important sentence of the article is last, of course (Peek at the happy ending first!)
"It may be well worth your while conducting a soil test before amending your soil. If you are in doubt, it would be best to rely on organic matter only, excluding chemical fertilizer altogether."
Compile all the managed lawn surface in New York and New Jersey and, conservatively speaking, you’d probably be talking about 15 percent of the total lawn care industry in the United States. That puts billions of dollars and high emotion into play when the two states’ legislatures start passing lawn laws.via www.safelawns.orgmore on bad science > bad policy > bad legislation > unintended consequence: putting organics and small businesses out of business
Will VA follow other states in banning phosphorus-containing fertilizers, even #organic fertilizers?
1201 Caroline St. Fredericksburg, VA
Speaker; Virginia Rockwell, LEED Green Associate, VSLD, VCH, APLD Associate
Topic: Is Grass always the “greenest” choice? Beautiful alternatives to turf grass that will help clean up out waterways, too.
Open to the public, landscape design alternatives to turfgrass on the eve of St. Paddy's Day.
By David Jay
As usual, California is at the forefront of this #water-saving landscape design trend. Here in the midAtlantic, a second reason to use less water in landscapes: all that water carries runoff of excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment into our streams and eventually Chesapeake Bay.
Landscape auditors? Creating those jobs won't satisfy the 'landscape free or die' crowd, but it's a thought. Landscape coaches, educators, first....then, the auditors, maybe.
Regardless, landscapes typically use an awful lot of water on landscapes, and the embedded energy that goes with it. We CAN do better...by catching and using the rain off the roof, by infiltrating SLOWLY into our own land the rain we get, and by planting and fertilizing more sensibly and sustainably.
Woohoo! a translation of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, from landscape architectureSpeak to down-to-Earth gardener talk ....I am a fan!
Landscape design came a little late to the LEED party...After all, if you could build a 'green' building, but trash the site while doing it, what was so green about that?
But after a long subterranean growth period, green shoots are appearing! The ASLA, US Botanic Garden and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have worked together on this for YEARS...and while 99% of the pilot projects for the Sustainable Sites Initiative aka SITES(TM)are public, so that people can experience these demonstration projects, it's great to see a quick translation.
In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, this is the RxH20 for our soils getting healthy, our waters getting cleaner, and our people being more conscious and healthy.
Congratulations to the writers/translators at Blue Crocus Consulting for doing the necessary work of bringing this good work down to Earth.
Gentle Gardener Green Design creates gardens and landscapes in accordance with the Sustainable Sites Initiative. Virginia is now a LEED Green Associate (one of only 92 LEED credentialed landscape architecture/design people in Virginia), credentialed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a person schooled in sustainability.
Compile all the managed lawn surface in New York and New Jersey and, conservatively speaking, you’d probably be talking about 15 percent of the total lawn care industry in the United States. That puts billions of dollars and high emotion into play when the two states’ legislatures start passing lawn laws.
more on bad science > bad policy > bad legislation > unintended consequence: putting organics and small businesses out of business
Organic Mechanics is simply the BEST container garden/potting soil on the East Coast. It's also great for topdressing lightly on lawns being reseeded; those rice hulls and coir are better than straw, which blows away. (Thank you Mark, for helping Gentle Gardener client container gardens do so well.)
And, the checkered local/state phosphorus bans are just DUMB. If you want to garden sustainably, you need good root development, particularly as plants are being established in low organic matter % soils (pretty much everywhere in VA except for the forest floor). Phosphorus from organic sources gives you that to get started; healthy soil life keeps it going. Demonizing one element just confuses the public.
The point is: do what farmers MUST do: have a soil conservation/management plan: pretest, measure, (ignore what the land grant universities tell you to do, which is almost always to apply 10-10-10 no matter what their own lab test show), get a professional garden coach or sustainable landscape designer/organic horticulturalist help you interpret and apply the correct amounts of organics, preferably locally made.
Organic Mechanics has a huge location advantage, being within 400-500 miles (and thus 'local' per USDA and LEED USGBC) of much of the East Coast megaplex population.
Soil test, test microbial action via the soilfoodweb guys out West, apply the organics (including worm compost, mulches on top, green manures, cover crops and nitrogen fixing plants like leguminous trees and, ahem, clover), don't overdo ANYTHING, water, and heck, be patient, observant and not a picky perfectionist.
Do NOT let the "Perfect" be the Enemy of the Good......or the organic.......or the local......or the sustainable.
FOR the last few days, attention has understandably been directed at the shores of the Gulf Coast as oil has started to wash up on beaches and in marshes. But last week I had the chance to see the effects of the spill from another perspective — when I dived into the oil slick a few miles off the Pass a Loutre wetlands in southern Louisiana. What I witnessed was a surreal, sickening scene beyond anything I could have imagined.
bioaccumulative dispersant contains known carcinogen. Friday eve # NewsHour guest professor from #University of South Florida describes a chef's nightmare a mile below the surface: natural gas under pressure, combining with salt water, oil and dispersant to make an emulsion with properties more like water: most of the oil is NOT rising to the surface but pervading the water column and thus the entire food web.
nature is not going to deal with the oil with a single command and control structure. NOR SHOULD WE. grab your destiny in your own hands, gulf states: employ best practices, don't do anything stupid, try to anticipate unintended consequences, but lead, follow, or get out of the way. every coastal community is going to have to deal with its undulating coastline, marsh, disappearing barrier islands in its own way. waiting for the feds to authorize or do or lead is proving to be just, well, dumb. i'd think y'all had figured that out 4 years back. spend the money and send BP the bill. they're paying for dopey advertising for FL beaches, they can write more checks for actual Work.
one group has to deal with the source of the flow a mile down. command and control is appropriate for that, but not for the local response.
we better be as opportunistic, flexible, locally adaptive, communitarian as Nature on dealing with the cleanup, or we will perish waiting for a single silver bullet from An Authority from elsewhere.