Why organic gardening?Posted on: 15 October 2019 by 50connect editorial
If you're thinking of adopting an organic gardening method, now is the time of year to be doing your prep. Here, Gavin and Paula Atkinson make a case for why you dig in.
The short answer is it's better. Better for the vegetables and fruit you're growing. Better for the soil. And most importantly its better for you.
It's only since the Industrial Revolution that society turned to harsh chemicals and poisons to boost yields. Non organic methods seem to work for a while, but in the long term more and more people believe it's fraught with disaster.
So what exactly is organic growing? It's all about growing vegetables, fruit and other plants in natural ways. This also means protecting them naturally from disease and pests. Organic growing uses the tried and tested methods. The Chinese have successfully done this for thousands of years. It's only now that scientists (and fortunately more and more farmers) are getting a better understanding about why it works so well. Now lets look at the ways organic growing is better.
Think about the last lot of fruit and vegetables you bought from the store. They probably looked perfect to the eye and tasted average. But what about the chemical and poison residues left on them? Sure enough they can be cleaned (by you and before they get to you), but wouldn't it be better to eat fruit and vegetables that you were 100% certain were totally safe for you and your family?
Wouldn't it also be good to know that the fruit and vegetables you ate were packed with healthy nutrients and vitamins? Chances are the fruit and vegetables you buy from the shop came from hundreds, if not thousands of miles (or kilometres) away. Scientists and geneticists develop varieties which can be transported these vast distances without being blemished. Think about it. When you buy some tomatoes from a shop don't you always look for the best looking ones? How can you guarantee that vitamins and nutrients won't be traded off with cosmetic perfection?
And while the fruit and vegetables you buy at the shop look perfect, how do they taste? Once again, an essential quality of fruit and vegetables, taste, is traded off for cosmetic perfection and transportation. When was the last time you bought corn whose taste really knocked your socks off?
Organic fruit and vegetables are not sprayed with harsh chemicals or poisons. Organic gardeners use natural, biological ways of protecting and growing their crops. To achieve this you just need to think a little bit ahead. You should plan where you place your vegetable patch, what you dig into the soil, what beds you plant your vegetables in, what vegetables and herbs you grow together and what preventative and proactive measures you take. Organic gardening is more about preventing disease and insects then reacting to disease and insects. And for organic growers any sprays used are natural sprays, without harsh chemicals. By growing your own fruit and vegetables organically you are guaranteed not to consume chemical and poison residues.
Growing your own also means growing healthy fruit and vegetables. The seeds you sow will grow into fresh fruit and vegetable varieties which have been grown in some cases for hundreds of years. They have not been genetically engineered or had their genes spliced to look perfect and only need to travel from your vegetable patch to your kitchen. In short, the vitamins and nutrients haven't been tampered with. They're natural.
Once you've tasted your own organically grown produce you won't go back. The taste and satisfaction you get from organic fruit and vegetables is astounding. I hate it when I've harvested all my lettuces and tomatoes, or run out of potatoes and have to begrudgingly buy their tasteless poor cousins from the store. I really mean this, your own home grown organic vegetables taste the best.
Your plants will also be better off with organic gardening. Insects and diseases are fighting back against chemical sprays. Chemicals and poisons might work in the short term but as insects and diseases mutate and become resistant to particular sprays, chemicals and poisons become increasingly ineffective. Poisons also kill indiscriminately. They kill just as many beneficial insects as pests, upsetting the natural balance of life. By following organic principles your plants will be healthier. Don't expect your fruit and vegetables to look 100% perfect. You will occasionally get some slight problems, and you might lose the odd one or two veggies or fruit, but you need to be pragmatic about these things. In the long run your plants will thank you for it.
Unlike chemical growers, organic growers don't feed their plants, they feed the soil. Healthy soil creates healthy plants and healthy people. The American organic pioneer J.I.Rodale coined this phrase 50 years ago. And it means just as much today as it did back then. Healthy soil should be seen as a living, balanced whole, rich in humus and micro-organisms including fungi, moulds, yeasts, bacteria and larger creatures like earthworms. When chemicals and poisons are used they upset the soil's natural balance. You can't have healthy soil if it's indiscriminately or carelessly treated with unnatural chemical fertilizers. Many of the living things maintaining the balance are destroyed. Over time the soil will lose its life and structure. The sensible method of maintaining the soil's balance is by organic gardening. By digging in aged manures, green manure, compost and other natural items and following the principles of crop rotation you can help build up the quality of your soil. And with healthy soil you'll have healthy fruit and vegetables.
I hope this introduction to why you should organically grow your own vegetables and fruit excites you enough to make the change. It's a positive change, not just for you and your family, but also for the environment.
By Gavin & Paula Atkinson
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