Tag Archives: soil food web

The Natural Landscape

Plants have been evolving on the earth for one billion years. In natural meadows, prairies, and forests, diverse plant communities thrive. They did not receive a dose of fertilizer or irrigation, nor did landscape crews come along to make them look great. How do these plants grow in the natural landscape and stay healthy and beautiful without any help? Have you ever wondered how a young tree in the middle of the woods gets enough sunlight? How does it compete with the other mature trees for nutrients?natural landscape

In the natural landscape, plants have formed dynamic relationships with other organisms since the beginning of plant life on earth. Science has just begun uncovering how these relationships work and how plants are in control of them.

The Process

The life in the soil, or the soil food web, is the natural way plants get nutrients and protect themselves. Plants grow deep roots and form unique diverse communities of soil organisms. Most plants form mycorrhizal relationships with fungi that further the reach of roots. The fungi in return receive a little plant sugar in order for both the plant and fungi to thrive together. Bacteria and fungi also break down leaves and organic matter, as well as weather soil minerals for plants. Amoebas and flagellates eat the bacteria, and fungi then ‘poop’ out the nutrients for the plants to use. These creatures and many others, including their many relationships, form the soil food web.

What we can do

 At Heidelberg Farms, we have refined the methods to reintroduce the same natural organisms in your soil that your plants have evolved with over time. We take into consideration the type of plants or lawn that you want to grow as well as the seasonal needs of the plants in order to provide you with a naturally healthy and beautiful landscape. With a little work now, you can spend more time enjoying your yard and less work later, as only periodic care will be needed. Using only organic methods, I can help you return to a more sustainable landscape so you will always be comforted by knowing that your yard is safe for your family.

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One in 6 children in the United States have a developmental disability, including learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, and other developmental delays. Cancer is the leading cause of disease related death in children. New Hampshire House Bill 399 restricts the types of pesticides allowed where kids play, thereby significantly reducing exposure to chemicals that can harm our children’s development, chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, or disrupt the delicate endocrine system even at tiny levels. It is imperative that we move ahead in eliminating as much of these types of exposures as we can. 

Below is my testimony I have submitted to the members of the House in support of it. 

I am Steve Phillips, the owner of Heidelberg Farms, a New Hampshire small business started in 2013 to provide Organic solutions to our state’s families and businesses. I have worked in all parts of the horticultural industry and have found a good home in Organics.

I started my land care career mowing lawns, trimming shrubbery, and practicing the application of pesticides. I went on to attend the Pennsylvania College of Technology, and in the course of studying NH’s famed tree biologist, Dr. Alex Shigo, I began to pursue my own intense interest in the how and why of plant care.

Through Dr. Shigo’s tree autopsies, he was able to show us how trees responded to their environments and growing conditions. He then applied this knowledge to change our management of trees to better reflect their natural responses to the world around them. His work modernized tree health care and the arboriculture industry. It is in his spirit that I continue to examine how plants respond, and adapt my management practices accordingly, in order to provide my customers with the best care for their lawns and gardens. I now follow solely Organic practices, and formed Heidelberg Farms to promote the most effective Organic plant care strategies throughout New Hampshire.

Organic works on every scale. Large national projects all across our country – including the George W. Bush Presidential Library, NYC’s High Line, and St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, as well as numerous college campuses, parks, athletic fields, and golf courses – have all moved toward Organic Management. I believe they made their decisions for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, because Organic offers better long-term solutions at a competitive price.

As with any new technology, there is always more to learn. However, by applying better cultural practices, and incorporating a more complete understanding of how plants respond and grow best, Organic simply makes the most sense. Fortunately, information, training, materials, and experience are all very easily obtainable to help in the logical transition to Organic land care.

organic soil mixJust 15 years ago, experts talked about 29 nutrients that were needed for plants to thrive. Recent research, however, indicates that plants actually require 42 nutrients in the soil so they can perform a variety of different cellular functions necessary for their health.

Yes, 42 nutrients, which means they need a lot more than the classic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium the ‘big box’ industry implies is all you need to worry about. Here is the interesting part, though. There is not a consensus among plant physiologists as to what constitutes the “essential” nutrients.

We recently talked to Dr. Elaine Ingham, and she rhetorically asked, “So do we count just those nutrients that plants have to have each day, disregarding the nutrients that are translocated into the plant at levels too low for human assessment tools to measure? Are these nutrients critically important at some juncture in the plants life? Having these conversations with people, I hold the attitude that probably all the elements in the periodic table are likely to be important. Just because no one has done the research yet to document it does not mean it is not so.”

Nutrient rich gardening

Just like people, plants cannot grow if they have a nutrient deficiency. However, the nutritional of food has been declining for years—and the cause is primarily related to depletion of our soil. When looking to create a nutrient rich garden, Heidelberg Farms analyzes your soil under a microscope and create a compost tea based on an ocean-based nutrient profile.

While more research is needed, we know that plants thrive on much more than nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. We look at the biology of what is taking place in your soil more so than the chemical. In your soil, there is a diverse complex array of soil food web characters. All these characters play a role in cycling different nutrients from the soil to the plant.

How does this process work? Plants communicate via exudates, which are plant sugars. Plants send these exudates to feed specific organisms in the soil and then they return to cycle the nutrients back to the plant. The takeaway here is that the research surrounding plant health directly relate to our health—and it begins in the soil.

There is a big difference between dirt and soil. Understanding the difference will not only help us create a beautiful yard, but help take better care of the earth (and ourselves) in the process. Stay tuned for more blogs that ‘dig’ a lot deeper into these issues. Call Heidelberg Farms at (603) 501-9919 if you have any questions. Let’s talk soil![wysija_form id=”2″]

LawncareSteve Phillips, owner of Heidelberg Farms, is the type of person that doesn’t just blindly accept the status quo. Organic lawncare is a new way to approach the care taking of the living things around your home. He is a proponent of Soil Foodweb, a holistic lawn care style developed by Dr. Elaine Ingham.

Here’s the skinny: Your lawn is an ecosystem with every living thing playing an important role. Over the years (as in thousands), the organisms natural to your region have evolved in conjunction with one another. When we introduce foreign systems, like pesticides, it throws the entire system for a loop because it’s not something that belongs naturally. Soil Foodweb is the study of all of these organisms and how they work and live together to create a rich, natural lawn or garden.

With Heidelberg Farms, you can expect a commitment to excellence and an enthusiastic passion for the natural development or restructuring of your yard. Instead of trying to circumvent the system with fake growers or overnight ‘greeners,’ Steve will bring plants and organisms that are indigenous to the area, reintroduce native organisms and let the Earth take it from there.

Oft-times, people get frustrated when they put Product X from a Big Box Store on their yard–because in a month, it wears off and they’re back to square one. That’s not what Heidelberg Farms does. We’re in the business of getting your lawn back to its natural state. The Earth has been around far longer than we have and it knows itself better than we know it.

Let nature takes its course. Let Heidelberg Farms guide you—and at a pricepoint that will surprise you. Organic lawn care does not mean “expensive.” It means “long term solution,” and in the long run, you will SAVE money when you go organic.

For a free quote, call 603-501-9919 or message us on Facebook @ Heidelberg Farms.