Bill Neu

Lyons, Wisconsin

Six years ago, 2001, I started gardening for the sake of improving my ailing health. I was determined to garden organically for the sake of food purity. Setting out with little knowledge and almost zero experience I had two very disappointing years of only fair yield and relentless insect attack.

Disillusioned, I then read up on some organic pest control approaches. Armed with a little non-toxic ammo I achieved less damaged produce. However it cost extra money and time and did not improve yield.

The non-toxic pest repelling was painful gain, but was soon to be a thing of the past; thanks in part to the example of an organic agricultural institute some miles drive away. I learned there was a way to bring beautiful organic produce to the table without the labor intensity I found inherent in my home brewed red pepper and garlic concoctions.

billneu02.jpg About that time I had come across online an eco-agriculture organization called Acres USA ( The information rapidly turned my mediocre gardening experience into an incredible joy. Within two years I had reduced insect pressure to nearly nothing and wonderfully increased yield, and of course the lack of bug induced markings made for eye appeal.

What I had learned from the Acres USA organization is that highly successful organic farmers claim that healthy plants do not invite insect attack. This was a foreign concept to me; I had never heard such a thing. I had assumed that if insects were around they needed something to eat and by nature were compelled to destroy my garden investment.

billneu03.jpg Implementing cover crop, good compost and using a natural approach to fertilization was the ticket to success. I now am a believer that healthy plants do not invite destructive insects.

For a fertilization program in addition to cover crop and compost I use a rock dust called AZOMITE. When the plants have good-sized foliage I also apply a seaweed based foliar spray. The results bring smiles and bounty.

The eco-minded experts say well fed soil life benefiting from the compost and the turned under cover crop break down inorganic minerals (rock fines) and make these nutrient sources available for absorption by the plant. As an added benefit of incorporating organic matter, the soil life – earthworms down to the microscopic bacteria – will produce a well aerated and porous soil structure that will greatly enhance air and water holding capacity and thus increase drought resistance and aid in preventing soil erosion.

billneu04.jpgIt is worthy to note that plants that are healthy enough to escape insect attack are at the same time better for us because of the increased mineral content. And probably without exception the produce will be more pleasing to the palette.

Invest in a refractometer to see for yourself the produce quality that is found in the grocery produce aisle versus that of properly homegrown organic produce. The results are telling; you will no longer wonder why America is an increasingly ailing nation.

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