Organic Gardening – the Healthy Choice26/07/2018
Organic gardening is a great way of providing healthy food for you and your family. When you buy produce from the store, it is not the same as presenting a meal to your family that came exclusively from your garden, worked by your own hands. For some people, gardening is a passion. For some, it is a hobby; and for others, it is a means of feeding their families. The thrill of seeing your first red, ripe tomato or watching your first stalk of corn reach from the ground can be an amazing experience for many people.
Many people choose to garden so they can have control over what type of food they eat without fear of chemicals or preservatives. Often, commercially grown produce is cultivated in greenhouses with the use of pesticides and chemicals to enhance their growth. The side effects of chemical pesticides on the human body can truly take its toll. So many people are jumping on the organic gardening bandwagon as a way of minimizing the risks that often come with commercially grown food crops.
What is Organic Gardening?
The simple answer is that organic gardening is gardening without the use of synthetic products, such as pesticides and fertilizers on the plants. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects. An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes.
Organic gardening operates on the concept of recycling. You use animal waste, kitchen scraps, and vegetable wastes to mulch and compost. You will use common household items like vinegar and soap to prevent pests and weeds. Organic gardeners rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops. Genetically modified crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.
Organic gardening is the merging together of plants and soil, allowing the earth to naturally bear what it was made to do. The plants and the soil are working together to provide food and nourishment not only to humans but to animals and organisms as well. You don’t have to be a health enthusiast to embrace organic gardening. Imagine the wonderful way you will feel knowing that you are serving foods that were grown all naturally without the risks that come from applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Why Organic Gardening?
As recent as 25 years ago, the idea of organic gardening was considered quite a radical concept. How in the world were gardeners expected to control the weeds, the bugs, and the animals that could threaten a thriving garden without the use of man-made chemicals? When you think about it, organic gardening is a really simply theory. For years, people have been growing things without the use of chemicals. It only makes sense that we should be able to apply the same techniques and get the same results as they did today. We should grow food using Mother Nature’s ingredients rather than concoctions born in a chemist’s laboratory for the good of all of us.
But the interest in organic gardening goes beyond just the benefits for us and our families. There has been a rise in the interest of ecology and concern about the environment that has given new life to the renewed interest in this form of gardening. By using natural minerals and materials, by taking advantage of natural predators, and by recycling garden waste, the home gardener can maintain an organic garden quite successfully.
Advantages of Organic Gardening
There are many advantages to gardening organically. Probably first and foremost is that food produced using organic agriculture is more nourishing and more healthy. In early August, 2001, the Soil Association of Britain reported that a comprehensive review of existing research revealed significant differences between organically and non-organically grown food. These differences relate to food safety, primary nutrients, secondary nutrients and the health outcomes of the people who eat organically.
Vitamin C and dry matter contents are higher, on average, in organically grown crops than they are in non-organic crops. Mineral contents are also higher, on average, in organically grown crops. Food grown organically contains “substantially higher concentrations of antioxidants and other health promoting compounds than crops produced with pesticides.
Many people think that organically grown foods taste better. Also, some foods grown without pesticides produce a higher amount of an anti-oxidant that has been found to reduce the risk of some cancers. Overall, though, most people who enjoy organic gardening report that the enjoyment they derive is paramount to their decision to eschew chemicals in favour of the all-natural route. Many people like to watch the tender new growth come to full maturity and, as a bonus, you get to eat it!
With organic gardening, you get extra fresh vegetables. Naturally, corn on the cob and newly picked peas are especially noticeable, but this trait extends to all vegetables you grow yourself, especially under the organic method. A phenomenon noted by most people when harvesting their very first vegetables from their very first garden is that everyone eats much more of a given vegetable than they would have a similar store-bought variety.
You will save money not only by growing your own food, but you can even make a little extra cash on the side by selling your own all-natural foods that are so popular in the grocery stores these days. If you have canned all the tomatoes you can and still have bushels left over, you can take the extra to the farmer’s market and sell your organic tomatoes to others who don’t have the advantage of their own garden.
The Risks of Chemicals
We have chemicals in our everyday lives everywhere. Shampoo, toothpaste, many foods, even our clothing all contain or are manufactured with the use of chemicals. Besides polluting the environment, the use of chemicals can be much more threatening. But we’re concentrating on gardening and the use of these chemicals on our food. One of the prominent ways chemicals are used in food production is through chemical fertilizers.
Chemical fertilizers are quick-acting, short-term plant boosters and are responsible for:
- Deterioration of soil
- Destruction of beneficial soil life, including earthworms
- Altering vitamin and protein content of certain crops
- Making certain crops more vulnerable to diseases
- Preventing plants from absorbing some needed minerals.
The soil must be regarded as a living organism. An acid fertilizer, because of its acids, dissolves the cementing material, made up of the dead bodies of soil organisms, which holds the rock particles together in the form of soil crumbs. This compact surface layer of rock particles encourages rain water to run off rather than enter the soil.
For example, a highly soluble fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, goes into solution in the soil water rapidly so that much of it may be leached away into our ground water without benefiting the plants at all. This chemical causes the soil to assume a cement-like hardness. When present in large concentrations, they seep into the subsoil where they interact with the clay to form impervious layers of precipitates called hardpan.
Many artificial chemical fertilizers contain acids, as sulfuric and hydrochloric, which will increase the acidity of the soil. Changes in the soil acidity (pH) are accompanied by the changes in the kinds of organisms which can live in the soil. For this reason, the artificial fertilizer people tell their customers to increase the organic matter content of their soil or use lime to offset the effects of these acids.
There are several ways by which artificial fertilizers reduce aeration of soils. Earthworms, whose numerous borings made the soil more porous, are killed. The acid fertilizers will also destroy the cementing material which bins rock particles together in crumbs. Chemical fertilizers rob plants of some natural immunity by killing off the micro-organisms in the soil.
Many plant diseases have already been considerably checked when antibiotic producing bacteria or fungi thrived around the roots. When plants are supplied with much nitrogen and only a medium amount of phosphate, plants will most easily contract mosaic infections. Host resistance is obtained if there is a small amount of nitrogen and a large supply of phosphate. Fungus and bacterial diseases have been related to high nitrogen fertilization, and lack of trace elements.
Plants grown with artificial chemical fertilizers tend to have less nutrient value than organically grown plants. For example, several tests have found that by supplying citrus fruits with a large amount of soluble nitrogen will lower the vitamin C content of oranges. It has also been found, that these fertilizers that provide soluble nitrogen will lower the capacity of corn to produce high protein content. Probably the most regularly observed deficiency in plants treated continually with chemical fertilizers is deficiencies in trace minerals. To explain this principle will mean delving into a little physics and chemistry, but you will then easily see the unbalanced nutrition created in chemical fertilized plants.
The colloidal humus particles are the convoys that transfer most of the minerals from the soil solution to the root hairs. Each humus particle is negatively charged and will attract the positive elements, such as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, boron, iron, copper and other metals. When sodium nitrate is dumped into the soil year after year, in large doses, a radical change takes place on the humus articles.
The very numerous sodium ions (atomic particles) will eventually crowd out the other ions, making them practically unavailable for plant use. The humus becomes coated with sodium, glutting the root hairs with the excess. Finally, the plant is unable to pick up the minerals that it really needs. So, with chemical fertilizers, in short, you have short-time results, and long-term damage to the soil, ground water and to our health.
Another reason to avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides is that long-term use of such chemicals can deplete the soil and leave it unable to sustain further growth. In many cases, beds of perennials suddenly stop blooming for no apparent reason, and the culprit is often found to be the overuse of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Chemicals that are applied to plants can often seep into the water supply thus contaminating it. While it’s true, our drinking water does go through a filtration process, it has been proven that this process does not remove ALL of the harmful contaminants. It has also been proven that certain chemicals can cause diseases, birth defects, and other hazardous health problems.
Consumers worry about filthy slaughterhouses, e-coli, salmonella and fecal contamination. The CDC estimates that 76 million American suffer food poisoning every year. There are no documented cases of organic meat, poultry or dairy products setting off a food poisoning outbreak in the United States.
Consumers are also concerned about toxic sewage used as fertilizer on conventional farms. Organic farming prohibits the use of sewage sludge. Eating organic eliminates, or minimizes, the risk from poisoning from heavy metals found in sewage sludge, the unknowns of genetically modified food, the ingestion of hormone residues, and the exposure to mutant bacteria strains. It also reduces the exposure to insecticide and fungicide residues.
It is certainly in the best interests of the human population to avoid chemicals in our foods, but it is also better for our planet as well. Chemicals can affect the soil making it less fertile. They destroy important parts of the natural eco-system. All plants and animals serve some sort of purpose – even if that purpose is not especially obvious. By taking these components out of the natural life cycle, we are endangering our environment in ways we cannot necessarily see outright, but that danger is there.
So it becomes obvious that growing your food naturally is the best way to go. Let us embrace organic gardening, and live healthy.