Organic and Engineered Chemicals, What works and why

Continuing the discussion from Silent Spring:

We’ve been having threads veer off into these discussions, which I believe are important enough to have their own thread so that they quit hijacking others. Also, they are subjects that I will always have more to learn about. I think we all have more to understand. For instance, the other day Alan mentioned that phosphorous is a limited resource. I was unaware of that.

I realize this topic can be a hot button for some. Please keep the discussion a discussion and share thoughts, facts, ideas, even emotions, but treat each other with respect.

Why do you choose whatever methods you use? What are the pros and cons that you find with them?

What uses actually have the lowest negative environmental impact in what circumstances? It’s not a cut and dried case of always organic or always engineered. Lowest negative impact while obtaining a suitable harvest interests me very much.


I’ll jump in, Muddy. I find that I use a dual approach to almost everything.

Feeding, I use inorganics such as Miracle Grow for my container foods during the growth season. I do add an organic, like PlantTone, when I first set containers up, along with generous compost, more for the potential soil-building benefits and microbes than for intensive feeding since they are so relatively light in content. So I hope to have some small microbial community to make use of the organics; but I know surface space and temp. issues will always limit that effectiveness. So container wise, I use both with the caveat that likely the inorganics provide the lion’s share of the nitrogen that directly supports growth.

In ground, I do like organics like PlantTone (Milroganite for the lawn). I also find that fish/kelp emulsion seems to have a greening effect that I like. I add it to containerized food plants in the hope that some of the nutrients can get utilized and pass into the foods. BUT this is optimism, and I know it: I have no actual knowledge of how much we benefit nutritionally from its use in containers even as a foliar feeding. But I figure that’s an odds game, so I’ll play along. The plants do seem to flourish.

The basis of my feeding program in Spring is that bloomers and heavy feeders get Osmocote; they also get a side dressing of compost. As I just posted a few minutes ago about Earthbox tomatoes, they get both dry organic tomato food and MG during the growing season once fruit forms.

And most of my in-grounds feed from the hugelkultur practice of planting with wood. Its been the biggest step for me in quality soil building, I believe.

Now pest wise in relation to fruit…I’m still learning. Big time. I think I want to try to get to as many organics/mechanical barriers to pests as I can. That being said, I like the idea of combining approaches. I don’t think if I use Triazicide for example to prevent PC that adding Surround won’t improve its effectiveness as they work differently. Ideally, the less I can use the synthetic pesticides the happier I will be. Zero would be great, if I can get there. But I can only find that out and try phasing things out or phasing other things in with experience. So in don’t have a lot to offer here.

In the learning curve I’m not the fountain, I’m the sponge.

Here is a very useful link to info about organic and low spray apple production:

The Phillips book on Organic Orchardist is excellent, but I had to read some of the chapters several times to understand it.

We are in our third year of small commercial production of Apples and Peaches (1 acre each) in a hot, humid climate. (Greensboro, NC). So far it has been very challenging to produce quality tree fruit even with the use of chemicals. As our knowledge and experience improve, we hope to get the proper material applied at the perfect time and reduce the number of sprays required. We try to use the least toxic controls available, but often the PHI on the less toxic chemical is greater than the more toxic chemicals. The key to peach production seems to be to get the catfacing insects under control early during petal fall and shuck split.