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How does your garden grow?

Use of organic lawn products encouraged


by: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Joe Kerzel, manager at Dennis 7 Dees in Lake Oswego, holds a container of Sluggo, which slugs eat and then crawl off to die.Are you dreaming of a lush, green lawn, flowers that bloom all summer and a bumper crop from your vegetable garden? Make your dream a reality by using more biology and less chemistry this season: Use organic fertilizers, weed killers and animal repellants.

What’s the difference?

According to Organic Gardening’s website, organicgardening.com, many organic materials serve as both fertilizers and soil conditioners, feeding both soil and plant. This is one of the most important differences between a chemical approach and an organic approach toward soil care and fertilization.

Hazelnuts are a natural way to deter slugs, which cant crawl on their sharp surfaces. Cats dont like walking on them, either. Use the nuts wherever you want to keep slugs and or cats out.Soluble chemical fertilizers contain mineral salts that plant roots can absorb quickly. However, these salts do not provide a food source for soil microorganisms and earthworms, and will even repel earthworms because they acidify the soil. Over time, soils treated only with chemical fertilizers lose organic matter and the all-important living organisms that help to build a quality soil.

As its structure declines, soil loses its water-holding capacity and more and more of the chemical fertilizer leaches out through the soil. In turn, it will take ever-increasing amounts of chemicals to stimulate plant growth. When you use organic fertilizers, you avoid throwing your soil into this kind of crisis condition.

Joe Kerzel, manager at Dennis’ 7 Dees in Lake Oswego, offers suggestions of organic alternatives to the traditional chemical fertilizers, weed killers and animal repellents. He suggests you look for products with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) seal of approval. OMRI products undergo rigorous reviews to ensure they comply with organic standards.

“The OMRI is a watchdog for organics,” Kerzel said. “There are other organic products which are good, but those with the OMRI label just go that extra mile.”

To get lawns green and lush, Kerzel suggests using organic fertilizer, such as Gardner and Bloome’s products, which contain mycorrhizae, which Kerzel explained is “a probiotic for plants. It connects with the roots to take nutrients up into the plant.”

For the acidic soil naturally found in the area, Kerzel suggests adding lime to get the soil healthy.

“This is calcium carbonate — just like Tums. It’s great for reducing moss in the yard and getting the soil healthy. You add it to the soil to correct the soil and then you don’t need to add iron to get rid of the moss.”

Gardner and Bloome potting soil is made with coir, which is a sustainable product, rather than with peat moss, which is not sustainable.Dennis’ 7 Dees also carries natural and organic weed control products, such as Worry Free, which is a great alternative to Roundup and Casoron.

Slugs are a big problem this spring. Organic Sluggo is a great alternative to Corry’s, a chemical that dehydrates slugs, leaving them to die on sidewalks and other surfaces.

“Slugs eat Sluggo and then go away to die,” Kerzel said. “Some people might think it isn’t working because they don’t see dead slugs all over the place. They’ve just crawled away to die under a leaf.”

Copper tape and hazelnut shells are also great tools to keep slugs out of the garden.

Dennis’ 7 Dees also carries a variety of animal repellants that are safe to have around household pets and humans, as well as a wide variety of yellow jacket traps, kitchen fruit fly traps, and silverfish, spider, mole and vole repellants.

Dennis’ 7 Dees also carries Botanical Interests seeds, which contain no genetically modified organisms.

And don’t forget the beneficial bugs. Ladybugs, praying mantis and nematodes can keep aphids and other insects at bay in the garden, while earthworms can improve soil quality by breaking down organic matter. Venus flytraps can capture unwanted insects indoors as well as outdoors.

Kerzel said Dennis’ 7 Dees also carries traditional chemical fertilizers, weed killers and pest repellants for those who wish to use those products.

“But for the most part, we encourage the use of organic products. Use the best products for the best results,” he said.

To learn more about organic lawn and garden care products, stop by Dennis’ 7 Dees

at 1090 McVey Blvd. in Lake Oswego or visit dennis7dees.com.
By Barb Randall
Staff Reporter
503-636-1281 Ext 100
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