Why organic? Organic gardening has become very popular in recent years and seems to be what everyone is getting into which we just love. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the benefits are of gardening organically? Here’s a just a few:
One core feature of organic gardening is a focus on soil health. Soil contains an incredibly complex mix of microbes (bacteria and fungi) and mesofauna (like worms and predatory mites) which all play important roles in recycling nutrients and keeping plants healthy. The use of organic fertilisers and mulches feeds and nurtures these hard workers and keeps the soil at its peak.
Synthetic fertilisers and other non-organic garden products are actually detrimental to the soil and kill off this biologically diversity. In their absence it is easier for pests and diseases to take hold. Synthetic fertilisers also cause a build up of salts in the soil which can harm plant roots and the physical structure of the soil.
Growing your own fruit and veggies organically means you instantly don’t have to worry about chemical residues but this is only the beginning of the benefits. The use of organic fertilisers means plants are given a complete food source which contains a range of macro and micro nutrients not found in synthetic fertilisers. It’s a bit like eating an orange versus taking a vitamin C tablet – you obviously get more with the whole orange. When plants are only given a narrow range of nutrients their fruit becomes nutritionally lacking.
When plants are attacked by pests or disease they switch on defence mechanisms. Some of these include changing the chemical composition of their tissue to fight off the attack. Many of the compounds they produce or increase in quantity are molecules which are nutritionally good for us. Things like antioxidants. Plants which are sprayed with systemic insecticides and fungicides have less need to switch on these defences with the resulting produce being less good for us.
Another key advantage to growing your own is that you can enjoy super fresh produce with its flavour and nutritional content is at its peak. And being organically grown you never have to worry about when you last sprayed and if it safe to eat!
Our environment is made up of a wonderful mix of diverse and interesting insects. A few of these are bad guys which attack our plants but the vast bulk of them are good guys, like bees and ladybeetles. Unfortunately most regular insecticides will kill good insects as well as bad ones. Even many fungicides kill good insects.
To further compound this many of these sprays, especially the systemic ones like Confidor, are very persistent in the environment. Did you know that the active ingredient in Confidor (imidacloprid) was recently given a 2 year ban in Europe for use on flowering plants? This is due to concerns about its lasting impact on bees.
The beauty of organic gardening is that it cuts out these nasty sprays and gives beneficial insects a chance to re-establish themselves in your garden. Be mindful though that even some organic sprays can harm beneficial insects so it important that you understand how a product works before you use it. The eco-organic range makes it easy though as they are specifically designed to be effective in controlling pests but remain safe for beneficial insects.
You can learn more about beneficial insects in The Garden Guardians book.
Our bodies are continually exposed to hundreds of different chemicals on a regular basis via pollution, the products we use, the food we eat and the buildings we live and work in. Safety testing is done in laboratories with regulatory bodies determining minimum “safe” levels of exposure. Virtually no testing is done in real life situations to see how the cocktail of chemicals from different products interact with each other in the environment or within our bodies. We are all literally human guinea pigs.
Over time as independent researchers gather data on particular chemicals they often begin to highlight safety concerns. The process is slow because independent funding is limited and some chemicals may take years of exposure before the damage becomes apparent. Manufacturers of the chemical also apply pressure and down play the research. Eventually the regulatory body will revise what they previous said was a ‘”safe” level of exposure and make changes to the way the product is used or sold. Ultimately they end up banned from sale.
Whilst we can’t control all of our chemical exposure we can lessen the load on our bodies by being organic gardeners. Keeping toxic chemicals out of our gardens mean you, your children and pets can happily enjoy this safe haven.