I Stand Rightly Corrected Regarding 'Chemical Fertilizers'

Recently, I was discussing organic gardening. I don’t especially like the term ‘organic’ gardening anyhow, because technically anything that contains carbon is organic. Virtually any herbicide or pesticide contains carbon, regardless of the source, so by definition, it is organic.

Most people think of organic gardens as those that contain no man-made synthetic chemical herbicide, pesticide, or fertilizer, although this is incorrect usage of the word ‘organic’. When I was talking about the man-made synthetics, I used the term, “chemical fertilizer”. 

I was in error for using this term and I was called on it. My reasoning was that even stores that sell the stuff refer to it as chemical fertilizer, chemical herbicide, and chemical pesticide. That is no excuse. It is no more correct to refer to the synthetics as being exclusively ‘chemical’ as it is to say that an organic garden, by definition, can’t have any of these.

I’ll explain why. All substances used in a garden are chemicals. That includes water, which is, after all, made of hydrogen and oxygen. Water is a chemical compound. Manure and compost are also chemical compounds. Manmade synthetic chemicals for the garden are chemical compounds, too. Still, this means that if a garden is grown using manure and compost, and if it has been watered, chemicals have been used on the garden.

The correct term, which I’ve also used here, is ‘manmade synthetic chemical compounds’. Just calling them ‘chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides’ as something that is exclusive to manmade production is incorrect usage of the term and I stand corrected. 

  • Have you ever used the term, “chemical fertilizer” or “chemical pesticide” to refer to manmade synthetics?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Occasionally


What do you think?

11 Points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. Very Informative , Thank you Rex , I would like to add some , The different types of chemical and organic fertilizers that are usually commercially available in most countries can be categorized further into: Complete inorganic fertilizers: – these types of inorganic fertilizers contain all three major macronutrients, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K)


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