Whether you believe in climate change or not, to go organic in your garden has many things to recommend it.
Leaving climate change aside for a moment, let’s consider some of the ramifications of going organic as a home gardener
- Less cost (no chemical purchases etc)
- Improved taste for fruit and vegetables
- You can re-introduce some of the better tasting heritage vegetables that have gone by the wayside because controlled and forced production has eliminated many of them – which has been done in favor of appearance and saleability, not taste.
- Safer – for people, animals, and the earth
The moment you start thinking about going organic, you realize that you cannot separate it from being eco-friendly and so climate change comes into the equation automatically, and that’s good as it is valuing adding to being organic.
So continuing the benefits
- Cleaner environment
- Nature is allowed to play its role
- Natural immune systems of plants and pest controls can be strengthened or renewed.
How do you become organic?
A first step is to simply be eco-friendly – that is put into place practices that will help reduce your carbon footprint from the ‘get-go’.
Actually, simply having a garden is being eco-friendly and contributes to reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
But, are you eco-friendly in the way you manage your garden? By using non-organic methods of fertilizing and pest and weed control, you reduce the benefits of a garden in relation to carbon reduction.
Organic is Nature
Being organic is not some tree-hugger fanaticism or a hippie dream. It is simply letting nature work at its optimum with less interference from us.
Should our focus of concern be on climate change or on nature being itself? That is, should climate change be the motive for us to go organic in our gardens?
It is not a question that has to be answered really. If there were no issues with the climate and ozone depletion, the reason for going organic remains and should be adopted by all types of gardeners. That is, we need to let nature be fully in control and work within her systems and not ours.
This doesn’t mean we cannot look at a genetic modification to feed the world’s starving, cross-breeding to improve strength, hybridization for more variation and so on. It is about how we care for the results – in the soil, in water conservation and pest control.
Why be organic?
Obviously, if you are concerned about climate change, this is a step that you can take to make a difference.
Will it change the world? Probably not, but every little step is progressing along the right path. The effects on the atmosphere are certainly larger than any individual, but the more individuals commit to what they can control to reducing carbon, then the more pressure can eventually be imposed on the big polluters in industry and mass farming.
Being organic as completely as you can in your garden is a great contribution.
Additionally, as I have mentioned above, it’s time to let nature come back and work her own magic – instead of us restricting it through our intervention with chemicals, soil degradation, salination, wasteful water usage and so on.
Plants in gardens have lost a lot of their natural ability to combat pests because we have made them dependent on chemical aids.
Think of the major issue we face with antibiotics becoming less and less effective due to over-prescription. Our bodies have become less susceptible to the benefits of these medications and bugs and viruses are steadily becoming resistant.
Likewise in the plant world. Plants that are dependent on external controls for disease resistance are more and more losing their ability to fight off pests and disease.
Becoming organic in the way we care for our gardens will, in time, help renew our plant’s ability to use its own immune system to fight off whatever decides to attack them.
Of course, this will not happen overnight when we stop using chemicals, and we have to expect some losses. However, with time and patience, with a gradual reduction of chemical dependency and the introduction of natural or organic controls, our plants will become stronger and survive more and more.
Too many of our plants have become like finely tuned thoroughbred racehorses. What we need are horses that are strong and not so over-bred that they succumb easily to problems.
How To Be Organic In The Home Garden
In the busyness of daily life, using any aids we can to maintain our gardens is both beneficial and time-saving – or is it?
We have become accustomed to the quick-fix and always want immediate results. There are so many demands on our time that we have and do resort to using methods of care and maintenance that are antithetical to what nature intends.
- Plants that are susceptible to all types of disease and pests because their natural immune systems have become weakened through dependency on external intervention.
- Higher costs when gardening. Yes, we save time, but at a significant cost to the wallet.
- Gardening is seen as a chore, not as a hobby or fun
- Less tasty vegetables and fruit
- Depletion of nature’s army of ladybugs, frogs, worms, soil organisms and other predators of the bugs that like to munch on our favorite roses or lettuces.
- Plants not lasting what should be their natural life cycle.
- Habitat destruction – birds that can eat the insects need safe places to hide in our gardens yet, have we the trees and bushes for them? Or do we let the cat chase them away?
But, simply taking an eco-friendly approach to our gardening can be both financially beneficial and physically rewarding in that it provides us with a source of stress relief, an opportunity to be outdoors and exercising (try digging!), and relaxation in a great atmosphere – imagine sipping a crisp chilled white under a tree where you are surrounded by the color of cottage flowers and the perfume of a nearby rose or climbing wisteria.
Everyone can be eco-friendly in their gardening habits – and by doing so, you naturally become organic – as that is what makes us eco-friendly or not.
Affordability and Savings
Being fully eco-friendly in the home as well as the garden would be the best goal to seek to achieve. However, it is not always feasible for the average homeowner burdened with a mortgage and the cost of daily life.
What is affordable and within everyone’s capacity is to be an organic gardener – an eco-friendly gardener.
For a start, you will save money, and if that is the only reason – then why not?
More importantly, every plant you nurture will contribute to the lessening of your carbon footprint as each will absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
We can’t just look at government and industry as excuses not to do our bit in preserving the environment. We all have to contribute.
How to go about it?
Well, it would be easy to say just pitch out all your chemicals and artificially derived fertilisers and go totally organic tomorrow.
However, I think gradually weaning yourself off non-organic methods of pest and disease control is probably sufficient and will involve less plant loss and frustration.
For example, I always used Triforine to control blackspot on rose foliage…. and it always appeared with the first flush of new spring foliage and growth.
I used Triforine to prevent its spread for the first few weeks of spring, then when it was absent, I gradually maintained control of its infestation with Neem Oil – an organic product.
Now, that is all I need. Blackspot, as rose growers will know is endemic in roses and it is not curable – but it can be reduced to almost non-existence if controlled.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
I should add to that heading, compost, compost, compost! As these two practices are the most significant foundational practices to adopt for being really organic or eco-friendly. And, they also save money!
Mulching will help conserve water – as moisture retention in the soil is vastly improved. it also helps moderate soil temperatures which helps keeps plants happy and healthy. Less water, less water bills too.
Mulch also acts a soil conditioner and keeps soil friable – and, in the case of clay breaks it down, and with sandy soil builds it up.
Depending on the type, mulch will also feed plants, maintain desired pH levels and assist prevention of weeds through suppression.
There is really no need to dig over a garden once you have it friable. Mulch will maintain that – and you save on the exertion.
This theme will be continued in the next article “The Organic Home Gardener” which addresses composting and other eco-friendly organic practises.
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