Most people realize that organically grown vegetables are superior to those that aren’t grown organically, however some people don’t know what advantage they have with growing them that way in a home garden. It is worthwhile to get a better idea about this. After all, all gardens are prone to various pests and diseases and there are many chemicals made for these. Why not use them? Don’t home gardeners need all the help they can get?
To understand the answer to this, it is important to understand what is meant by “organic”. Technically, to be organic, it merely needs to contain carbon. Most man-made chemicals contain carbon. However, to a home gardener, ‘organic’ usually means ‘without the use of man-made chemicals’ or ‘all-natural’.
An example is fertilizer. There are many man-made fertilizers on the market. While they tend to be balanced, they aren’t the best fertilizer. They contain chemicals such as ammonia. Finished compost is much better because it is natural and also usually balanced. Rotted manure is another great option. Nature has been in the business of making fertilizer far longer than man has been and she is a master at producing usable fertilizer.
Pesticides are more problematic, simply because there are many that are natural and many that aren’t. Neem oil and diatomaceous earth are both good examples of natural insecticides that can be used on most crops without the enormous problems presented by man-made chemicals. Neem oil is made from a tree that is native to India while diatomaceous earth is the powdered remains of fossilized diatoms.
There are other alternatives that are non-harmful, too. For instance, for an aphid infestation, fill a spray bottle nearly full of water, then add a couple of tablespoons of dish soap (not dish detergent). Spray this on the aphids. The soap breaks down easily, but it kills the aphids.
Chemicals like malathion are decidedly dangerous. The same is true of permethrin, Sevin dust, and many other pesticides. These chemicals leave a residue on the plants and contaminate the soil, often for a very long time. Once in the soil, it can take years for them to break down and they can quite often be washed down into the water table. Additionally, chemicals flavor fruits and vegetables, taking away from the natural good taste. Chemicals that are taken up by or absorbed by the plants can’t be washed off, either. Many fruits and vegetables that are store-bought, even if they carry an ‘organic’ label, have been contaminated with harmful substances and no amount of rinsing or washing will remove those substances.
The main advantage of using organic controls in the garden, then, is that it is safer and without long-term harmful effects and you are in total control over what goes on and in your fruits and vegetables. Nature has provided plenty of healthier alternatives, so it is quite possible to have a healthy garden without using any man-made chemicals.
Organic gardening really is the best way to go.