March 14, 2016 1:42 am
According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), most commercial fertilizers boost plant growth rapidly. But too commonly, these high potency fertilizers are overused, ending up as phosphorus and nitrate in groundwater and small streams.
In New England and along Long Island Sound, we've seen the poisoning of aquatic life and severe oxygen deficiencies result from these chemicals reaching local and regional water sources.
So, what you can do? The NWF says:
• You can reduce fertilizer potency and application rates and still improve plant health. "Natural" fertilizers, such as composts and pasteurized manures, are preferable, as they release a much greater variety of nutrients more slowly.
• If commercial fertilizers are used, choose a slow-releasing fertilizer.
• Make and use compost in the landscape and save landfill space.
• Plant cover crops, like buckwheat and clovers. These plants add or "pump up" nutrients to the root zone and physically improve the soil.
• Try composted sludge, which is derived from sewage or industrial processes.
• Grow native plants. Many native plants will grow very well with only an annual application of leaf mulch or with an annual cultural practice, such as mowing or burning.
What if your basement, garage or shed is stocked with fertilizers or other gardening chemicals?
The Integrated Pest management experts at the University of California, Davis have a few tips on disposing of pesticides and fertilizers:
• If you can’t use up your pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers, consider giving them away.
• Sewage treatment plants aren’t designed to remove all toxic chemicals from wastewater. Pouring garden chemicals into a storm drain, down the sink or in the toilet is never an option—and it is against the law!
• The only allowable way to dispose of pesticides is to use them up according to label directions or to take them to a household hazardous waste site.
To find Household Hazardous Waste Disposal sites nearest you, visit www.earth911.com, enter your zip code and what you need to recycle, and the interactive map will get you there.
Published with permission from RISMedia.