Many people today want to grow their plants the natural way, without using synthetic chemicals and sprays, to protect themselves, their families, their community and the greater environment from harm. For decades we became so used to growing with fertilizers it can seem it must be hard to do it any other way. It isn’t. Let’s look at how you can grow hedges, screens and evergreen specimens of Thuja Green Giant, or any evergreen, successfully, without resorting to artificial methods using chemicals. Instead you can grow it naturally – the organic way.
The Power of Organic Material
In the natural world there is a great cycle of decay and renewal. Plants and animals begin their lives, grow, and then die. During that life they excrete the things they don’t need. That cycle is part of a great exchange of materials, between the complex chemicals that characterize living things, and the simple chemical elements of the rocks and soil. Between these things are the decomposers – fungi and bacteria that break down complex molecules into their simpler components. They take dead things – leaves, branches, fruits and roots of plants, and the waste from animals – and live on it, and in the process bring back the basic elements other plants need to grow.
We call that broken-down stuff, which still has further to go before it is completely returned to simple minerals, ‘organic material’. This can be garden compost we make ourselves, or that is made on a larger scale from city waste, or it can be the waste from farming. Animal manures from cows, horses and sheep are mixed with straw and turn into organic material. Plus, there are other sources of this valuable stuff, such as seaweed, or the waste left over when the oil is extracted from seeds like corn, soya or sunflowers. Even sawdust, if treated properly, can be used for this purpose.
This organic material is the basis for all organic growing, and fortunately, even if you don’t make your own garden compost, it is readily available in some form or other from garden centers and nurseries. So, if you are starting a hedge or screen with Thuja Green Giant, or if you already have plants you want to grow organically, the first step is to get yourself some.
Organic Material Works Miracles in Your Soil
What is so wonderful about organic material, and what sets it apart from artificial fertilizers is not the elements it contains. Every scientist will tell you – correctly – that the minerals it releases, such as Nitrogen, Potassium, or Iron, are exactly the same to the plant as a box of artificial fertilizer.
No, the secret of organic material lies not in its minerals but in what it does in the soil. Organic fertilizing is about feeding your soil, not your plants. If well-maintained your soil will do the feeding, from the vast mineral reserves locked up inside it. As well, organic material improves the physical structure and properties of your soil, making every soil more suitable for growing.
In clay soils, when we add the coarse pieces of organic material, we open up the structure of the soil, letting air in and water out. The enemies of plants in clay are just that – not enough air, and too much water. Roots need air and when it is excluded by too much water the roots suffer, become prone to disease and die. Clay soils usually have abundant chemical reserves in them, but these cannot be liberated for plants, because the airless, wet environment is unsuitable for the organisms that release them, and for the plant roots to find them. So digging organic material into the soil before planting Thuja Green Giant will open up your clay soil to good growth.
Amazingly, it works just as well in sand. There the problems are the opposite ones. Sandy soils don’t hold enough water for vigorous plant growth, and the rapid movement of water between the coarse soil particles removes nutrient minerals as fast as they are produced. Organic material holds more water, and it also acts as a bank account for minerals. As they are produced they bind to the material, so they are not lost, and the soil becomes richer and more nutritious.
So the practical lesson is, when planting, and as mulch each spring on young plants, organic material of almost any kind is your friend, and the key to growing Thuja Green Giant the natural organic way.
Feeding Young Trees
Now to access all those nutrients plants need an extensive root system. Young plants don’t have that, so they can use a hand to get going. The best way to do that the organic way is to use more concentrated sources of organic material. There are lots of these, but popular and reliable sources include poultry manure, decomposed feathers (rich in nitrogen), bone meal (for phosphorus) and alfalfa meal (another rich but gentle source of nitrogen).
As well, poor soil often lacks those microbes that do the work. These microscopic miracle workers take all that organic material and turn it into mineral elements, as well as releasing materials like gums and resins that bind the soil together into crumbly particles, creating the rich, healthy soil we want. There are several different materials on the market to kick-start both your soil and your plants. One good one is the Bio-Tone range, that includes a great ‘starter plus’ product for planting, which supplements your soil preparation and provides a solid base of microbe activity. This is especially important when you are starting a garden in disturbed soil, perhaps following construction. All that digging and soil moving disturbs the system, which needs to be restored or it can lay barren for a long time.
Once initial establishment is over, switch to a supplementary organic food, like seaweed emulsion, or another product, like Bio-Tone ‘Tree Tone’, which is designed for evergreens and trees, with a good nitrogen level for rapid growth and rich-green foliage.
Green Gardening is not Rocket Science
Growing Thuja Green Giant – or your other evergreens – in a natural, organic way is easy. Take care of your soil, and boost growth with the minerals released by the decomposition of organic materials, and you are there. You preserve the soil environment and improve it for growing plants at the same time. After all, these natural cycles have kept the planet green for millions of years, so harnessing them for our gardens is not rocket science. Good soil preparation and a steady, natural trickle of nutrients is all it takes – enjoy growing green!