Organic Gardening, Or Not?
“Organic gardening is the only safe way to grow food, it's good for the planet and if you use anything synthetic, the ghost of
will haunt your descendants for three generations. Only bad people use chemicals.” This is the message of the “Big O” Organic gardeners.
The other side will tell you that, "organic vegetable gardening is too hard. You can grow healthier plants and produce, and enjoy better easier gardening through chemistry." They’ll say that, “you’ll only get inferior bug infested fruits and vegetables without insecticides, herbicides and fungicides."
Both sides are telling you the truth as they see it, but what should you believe?
I took my first steps into the garden when I was 4 years old. That was
175 years ago
. I have tried it all, and I want to tell you the unbiased truth. But first, meet my parents (right).
Sometimes dad, now 236 years old, is a little hard to get out of the burrow and into the garden in the morning.
What Is Organic Gardening?
Organic gardening means growing your garden without the use of synthetically manufactured substances – all natural as they say. Plants still must be fed and organic amendments work more slowly than their synthetic substitutes.
is not equal, organic gardeners take a different approach. They amend and feed the soil, then let the soil feed the plants.
include natural rock powders, kelp and bone meals, manures, sea waste and compost to improve the soil. They let
slowly break down these amendments so that the soil can then feed the plants.
The truth is, a plant can only feed on nutrients after they have nearly dissolved into water-soluble chemicals that the plant can use. So, organic gardeners depend on chemicals, too. But they use natural processes to break them down. Since organic fertilizers are weaker than their synthetic cousins, greater quantities are required.
These soil amendments work over an extended period of time in the garden. Using them is like putting money in the bank. They will continue to be in the soil to feed plants for years. If you continually feed the soil, the soil will feed your plants.
Adding organic material and
can be labor intensive, and beyond the strength and ability of some gardeners. Even handling
can be heavy work. If you have limitations,
are a safe effective alternative. Chemical or synthetic fertilizers are not evil.
The fertilizer companies apply chemistry to many of the same ingredients that “Big O” gardeners use (rock powders, manures, compost, sea waste, etc.). They produce more concentrated fertilizers that are faster acting and more easily applied.
For instance, the Haber process turns rock phosphate into super phosphate. The Big O’s dig rock phosphate into the soil and let nature do the rest.
In another process, chemists extract hydrogen from natural gas and use it to extract nitrogen for fertilizer from the air. Legume
do the same thing.
Is Organic Vegetable Gardening Better For Our Planet?
Yes, if you rely primarily on compost from organic matter grown on your property or obtained locally. If you use prepackaged organic fertilizers and soil amendments purchased at your garden center, not so much. It uses about the same resources to process, bag and ship the organic stuff as it does synthetics.
Do the plants and produce know the difference? Not really. Both organics and synthetics must break down to the same chemical composition before plants can take them up.
If you vegetable garden organically, you will have more heavy work to do, and you’ll need more gardening knowledge to balance soil nutrients, since compost doesn’t come with a nutrient analysis on the side of a bag. But it is usually cheaper, and you will be banking nutrients in your soil for the long term.
If you are a senior or have physical limitations it may be too difficult for you to employ organic methods. It is much easier to apply synthetics, and if done well, you will get the same great quality fruits and vegetables. Most synthetic fertilizers are already balanced, containing both the macro nutrients and the minor trace elements that your plants need.
Because they are more concentrated, stick to recommended applications. It is easier to burn your plants with synthetics. Results can be faster, too, because plants can take them up more quickly.
The down side is that water-soluble fertilizers quickly leach through the soil, out of reach of plant roots. They must be regularly reapplied to be effective. And if over used, they can leach into ground water supplies and that is not planet friendly.
So which is better, organic or not? Clearly organic is better if you are physically able and also willing to study organic practices (this site will teach you). You’ll become a better gardener. But if you are new to gardening, or physically limited, synthetics can produce great healthy produce, and it needn’t hurt the planet.
and other synthetics are legitimate options.
Whether you choose organic gardening or not, don’t use poisons to protect against pests or kill weeds. You’re growing food to eat. There are plenty of simple
organic pest control
organic weed control
While you are in a mood to think about living in a more organic or natural way, I have a human friend that has an site on
greener and simpler living
you really should visit.
Learn how to build a compost pile and how to use compost.
How Soil Microbes work in your garden.
Vermicompost is compost on steroids.
Make your own Liquid Organic Fertilizer
Using Manure in your garden
Your vegetables require these Plant Nutrients.
Organic Weed Control is easier than you think.
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