Why Not Try Organic Gardening This Year?

Some Basic Ideas About What Organic Gardening Means

Organic gardening has become mainstream. It is not the norm or the universal way of gardening, but it has become mainstream and 'interesting' rather than 'weird'. Having said that, the tight definition of organic gardening that it developed in the comparative private time of it's early days is being challenged by anyone who wants to tweak it for an advertisement or sales pitch. So what is organic gardening and why would you want to try it this year?

A Basic Definition of Organic Gardening
According to the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Tennessee, organic gardening is "a system of gardening that attempts to use only sustainable, ecologically sound, gardening procedures". It differs from regular non-organic gardening in that it rejects the use of man-made chemicals and fertilizers in producing food or other garden plants.

This includes manufactured pesticides for killing insects on the plants and under the ground, as well as chemical fertilizers like you would buy in a bag at a garden store. There are those who would extend this definition from the materials applied to the plants and soils, to the seeds you use, the materials in the tools you use, and even to the materials used in the storage and preparation of vegetables produced. The basic definition is more widely accepted and makes it easier for you to evaluate if you are indeed practicing organic gardening or buying food from someone who does.

Reasons to Try Organic Gardening This Year
The original reason for organic gardening was to limit the damage done to the environment by pesticides, most of which as a result of public outcry, are now banned from use.

DDT, the most famous, was used with great effect during World War II to control mosquitoes and other insects that spread malaria and typhus, saving thousands of lives. However, when it was released for general use in 1945, the side effects soon became alarming and it was banned for all but one use in 1973 in the United States.

Today, the first reason for organic gardening is the quality of the organically grown produce, especially in relation to taste and nutritional quality. This is a somewhat subjective reason, but those who prefer organic produce to regular produce often site these reasons. Because much of organic food is produced locally, that may have some bearing on this as well. In fact, some would argue that if you don't buy locally from someone you know, or raise it yourself, you have no guarantee that what you are paying for is indeed organic.

The lack of pesticide residue in the food is another reason to practice organic gardening. Although the allowed levels are jut 1/100 of what are considered dangerous, the enforcement of those levels is at best spotty, and done by a non-Government out-sourced network of agents. People who are violently allergic to the pesticide residues even in small amounts need to be aware of that. Also, there is some evidence that even these allowed levels are underlying some of the auto-immune diseases so much more common today. Any doubt regarding the state of your organic food is removed when you practice organic gardening at home and grow your own, not just buy from someone else who says they do.

The Ultimate Reason
There is one more reason for following organic gardening methods. Although it might not appeal to some, the major benefit of organic gardening is what it does for the soil the food is grown in. The increase in organic matter, the increase in the 'life of the soil' as seen in the huge increase in beneficial bacteria, worms, nematodes, fungi, and other soil-benefitting insects and micro-plants goes far beyond producing tasty veggies. The long-term good done to the soil using organic gardening methods is, in fact, hard to measure in dollars and sense, even if you include the positives of reduced healthcare and food costs.

The fact is, organic gardening is just plain good for the planet.