A walk through most retail garden centers will turn up at least some selection of organic or all-natural products. How extensive the selection varies from outlet to outlet, but the trend is evident; consumers are becoming more and more interested in using alternative solutions for lawn and garden care and retailers are answering the demand.
“According to the National Gardening Association, 10 percent of households with a yard use only all-natural or organic fertilizers and 7 percent choose only all-natural or organic insect controls. While this is currently a small percentage of overall homeowners, NGA also predicts that use of all-natural/organic gardening methods is likely to increase by more than 60 percent over the next few years,” a Home Depot news release stated.
Locally, the “growing greener” trend is unmistakable.
“We used to have maybe a 4-foot space for organic fertilizers. Now we have a 12-foot section,” said Lydia Rieman, garden shop manager at Pierson Building Center in Eureka.
Rieman said her staff has been getting more and more requests for organic goods as the public becomes aware of what’s available and wants children-friendly and pet-friendly products.
The story is the same at Miller Farms Nursery Inc. in McKinleyville.
“We have a whole section just devoted to safer products,” said Kristina Bascochea, buyer for the nursery department. “They used to be divided by type, (but) it’s gotten so big, it really has its own area.”
While the interest in alternative products has been observably growing over the past five years or so, both retail outlets said the biggest expansion in the products being offered has occurred within the past two years.
Rieman attributes the attention to a couple of factors, one being that many organic and all-natural products have become highly effective. For example, one hot item, an iron phosphate slug and snail bait, is said to work much better than its chemical counterparts.
Perhaps the primary reason for the shift, however, is the public becoming more health conscious overall, Rieman said.
Bascochea concurred. “People are more interested in the healthier lifestyle,” she said.
To organic farmers Claudia Holzinger and Von Tunstall, that comes as no surprise. Growing organic makes perfect sense to the couple, who owns a farm in Orleans and sells its products at many local farmers markets and to local grocers.
The couple raises their signature crop of garlic, as well as their tomatoes and culinary herbs, using no pesticides, herbicides, chemical additives or chemical fertilizers.
Over the 28 years the farm has been in business, Holzinger and Tunstall have used cover crops and soil amendments.
Cover crops are “using other vegetation as a way of building the fertility (of the soil) during the winter months,” Tunstall explained. Members of the pea family, oats and rye are good cover crops, he said.
Bagged manures, oyster shells and organic soil supplements that contain vitamins and trace minerals are alternative products Tunstall uses on the farm.
“All soil is beautiful soil,” he said. “It just needs a little TLC.”
If organic TLC is what the public is looking for, it’s only likely to become widely available assuming the current trend stays in place.