Please don't use pesticides in your garden. This includes fertilizers as well as sprays. Read the label(s) BEFORE you buy. To see if a commercial fertilizer is organic or chemically derived, read the labels closely. Most mention the three words known as "NPK"... nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. If you look at the back ofthe bag or box and see that the nitrogen is derived from ammonia or says water soluble, insoluble or nitrate, it’s a safe bet that these are chemically produced. If it says the nutrients are derived from animal or plant matter, it’s organic.

Commercially available organic fertilizer companies that produce superior products are Whitney Farms, Grow More, Kellogg's, Bandini and Safer/Ringer.

As for sprays, use the ones derived from soap. Safer makes a spray for powdery mildew, rust, aphids etc. These are not toxic or harmful to creatures like the ladybugs and bees that are so beneficial to our plants. If you see a gardener using chemicals, please talk to them or tell your Phase Representative or the Garden Master.

Don't Nuke Your Plants

Many gardeners don't realize that a slew of highly-advertised synthetic fertilizers actually damage the soil and shorten your plants' life cycle. Among the worst culprits are:

No-No #1: Miracle Gro

Fast-acting, high nitrogen, it promotes excessively rapid growth inviting disease and pests and chases away beneficial earthworms. Instead use fish emulsion, manure tea or Dr. Earth Organic.

No-No #2: Osmocote

This inorganic substance coated with resin promotes saline buildup. Instead use blood and bone meals or Whitney Farms All-Purpose food.

No-No #3: Ortho Rosepride Funginex

A major chemical criminal poetically promoted as "Beautiful flowers through science." Has polluted San Francisco Bay (site of Ortho Manufacturing), highly toxic to all wildlife, persistent in soil. Instead use Safer fungicide, Rose Defense, or mix a foliar spray of one tablespoon fish emulsion in one quart water.