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Is Organic Gardening Worth the Time and Effort?


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Is Organic Gardening Worth The Time and Effort?

Defeating Garden Pests and Weeds the Organic Way

All you gardeners out there—or gardener wannabes—this one’s for you!

There’s nothing quite so fulfilling as delivering a bounty of delicious fruits and veggies, or a bouquet of beautiful flowers, for your family’s enjoyment. And getting down and dirty in the garden is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Plus, there’s just something about the feel of the earth between your fingers… the joy of watching your garden grow… Even whacking weeds can bring a sense of satisfaction.

But what do you use, specifically, to keep those weeds at bay? And how do you deal with those pesky insects who want to munch on the fruits of your hard labor?

Today, more and more are finding organic gardening practices to be a good alternative to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, especially in light of concerns about harmful chemicals contained in many of them.

What is organic gardening?

Organic gardening is basically gardening without the use of any synthetic products, including pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, organic gardening incorporates the idea of replenishing resources as it makes use of them. It involves the use of compost and other methods of building healthy soil, as well as extra vigilance when it comes to pest control, and knowing which pests to worry about vs. which ones are probably not a big threat.

What are some of the pros of organic gardening?

produce

  • Fewer chemicals—Conventional weed killers often contain harmful chemicals that permeate the very soil that nourishes your plants. And pesticides can linger on the surface of your fruits and vegetables, sometimes even penetrating the outer layer. This is why organic gardeners avoid these types of products.
  • More antioxidants—A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that organic foods and crops have up to 69% higher concentrations of antioxidant compounds—in other words, about the same as two extra servings of fruit and veggies every day.
  • Economical—By not purchasing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides you’ll even save money. And if you decide to compost, you gain further economy by putting your leftover food and other organic waste to great use!

And the cons?

  • Time and labor intensive—According to SparkPeople.com, “A successful [organic] garden requires forethought and planning; maintaining that garden involves crop rotation, companion planting, diligent removal of diseased or weakened plants, composting (which takes weeks or months to break down), hauling manure, working organic matter into the soil, and manual weeding.” For those with limited time all this may seem daunting, but others may welcome the opportunity to spend more time outdoors.

    tip iconTips for controlling weeds: Combine manual weeding with mulching. Mulch is a couple of inches of not-yet-decomposed organic material spread on the ground around your plants to restrict weed growth. It also helps improve your soil’s fertility and health, conserves moisture and prevents erosion. You can use grass clippings, bark, leaves, woodchips, rock, gravel and more.

  • Insects—Because you’re working in cooperation with nature, you will probably need to accept the occasional garden pest. Just be vigilant, regularly inspecting your plants for signs of a problem, and act quickly if you notice a problem. But remember—not every insect is necessarily bad, and pesticide isn’t always the answer.

    tip_iconWhat to do about insects: Aim for diversity in your garden. A mix of plants will attract more beneficial insects and help prevent a problem from spreading throughout your garden. For example, specific flowers can be planted to attract certain predators which will in turn help protect your garden by consuming bugs that might otherwise do damage to it.

    If you decide that a pesticide is in order, consider one of these common organic garden pesticides from Gardening.About.com.

  • Lower yields—Fertilizing the soil of an organic garden is a slower process than simply fertilizing with a bag purchased from the gardening store. Organic gardeners typically strive to enrich the soil of their gardens naturally via composted matter. And since compost releases nutrients slowly into the soil, organically grown plants usually have smaller yields than conventionally grown ones. As your soil gets healthier over time, however, you may find that your yield increases, too.

Remember, whether you’re an organic gardener or of the more conventional variety—or somewhere in between—don’t forget to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. The time you spend outdoors is as good for you as it is for your garden!

comment_2Have you tried organic gardening? We’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment below.

Resources:
About Home: The Basics for Gardening Organically
Movement Blog: Live Green and Compost
SparkPeople: Organic or Conventional Gardening: What’s Better?
Cambridge Journals: British Journal of Nutrition
About: A Guide to Some Common Organic Garden Pesticides

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Anne Baudouin
Anne Baudouin
4 years ago

I have been organic gardening for a few years now and the neighbours cannot get over how much my little garden yields. It is rewarding, easy (once you set up a routine) and I learn and try something different every year.

Ruth Day
Ruth Day
4 years ago

My son got me started last year with organic gardening. I’m much happier with my flowers and the few herbs I have planted. I was very proud when he told me that mine look better than his! Our families have enjoyed fresh vegetables for 2 years now. My son and daughter in-law does most of the vegi and fruit planting and shares with all of us!
I myself have used the organic pesticide to keep the deer rabbits away from my plants. I’m happy to say it’s working great!
Thank you Norwex for making my life a safer place to live. You keep me thinking of my father who always cooked things natural!

Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner
4 years ago

My husband and I organic garden…we plant heritage seeds that we can grow year after year by harvesting our own seeds. Seeds from hybrids don’t always germinate after they have fruited or flowered.

Patti
Patti
4 years ago

I have a mini five gallon worm farm best soil and fertilizer you can ask for!

Heather Scirri
Heather Scirri
4 years ago

This summer I’m part of an organic community garden. It’s been fun so far! My yard is not large enough for a garden, so this is a perfect solution. I’m learning a lot, too!! We love the produce and seeing our efforts pay off. Totally worth it!

Megan Fransoo
Megan Fransoo
4 years ago

The weeds are my biggest challenge! I have just purchased a weed-steamer which is supposed to kill weeds naturally with water steam. I will try spreading mulch as well.

sarah Brown
sarah Brown
4 years ago
Reply to  Megan Fransoo

Hi Megan, we have been organically gardening for 20 years. I like to use straw in the rows to help cut down on weeds. It’s cheaper than mulch and at the end of the season your simply till it into the ground. Thankfully there’s a farmer just down the road who farms organically and raises grass fed cattle so we know the straw doesn’t have any pollutants.

Melissa Short
Melissa Short
4 years ago

My now 9 yr old started gardening 3 years ago with his Grandparents. My 5 and 7 yr old have gotten into the act too. The boys go out and weed weekly without being told and they help my parents a few times a week with picking strawberries, raspberries and beans as well. I have a black thumb and literally kill everything green. I’m glad they have a green one! My hubby loves to garden with them and they don’t use any type of poisons or pesticides. They always have a huge garden!

sarah Brown
sarah Brown
4 years ago

I have always heard to throw human hair (non colored of course) on the soil to help keep bunnies and deer out. I save the clippings every time I cut my husbands hair and sprinkle it around in the spring, never noticed any fuzzy friends munching my produce either 🙂

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
4 years ago
Reply to  sarah Brown

Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I hadn’t heard of that!

Jennifer Backler
Jennifer Backler
4 years ago

Love the weed tips! I have problems with weeds in my raised vegetable beds and if I don’t weed for a week or so it is crazy! Didn’t think to mulch! Thanks for the tip!

Leah Rissien
Leah Rissien
4 years ago

The rabbits enjoy my organic garden more than I do … but my son loves watching the rabbits!

Linda Gilbert
Linda Gilbert
4 years ago

My hubby’s family went organic back in the 60s. A special bonus from our move last year to a 60 plus community was the opportunity to have garden spaces and chemicals are not allowed. Our local library and other municipal properties have such gardens. It’s awesome. Produce goes to the local food banks.

Marsha Jaramillo
Marsha Jaramillo
4 years ago

I am on my 5th year of trying to grow an organic garden. It has been a defeat every year. First, it was too much rain. Next, it was too much sun. Both. And, now this year the bugs. Something invisible eat the leaves off my squash plants. I am not giving up. I will replant in the last of Summer.
I’m thinking of companion planting with marigolds and garlic, onion and mint to see if that helps. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Im in Florida.

Tese Casick-Roesler
Tese Casick-Roesler
4 years ago

I’ve been growing some organic vegetables for the last 5 years, or so. Using an Earth Box or Grow Box makes it much more manageable.

Cindy Cohen
Cindy Cohen
4 years ago

Just a reminder that using store bought veggies and composting them puts chemicals into your organic garden. Red worms make the best fertilizer. They are well worth the effort. I second the suggestion on mulching for weed control and moisture retention. To conserve water I try to use drip to soak the area. I think I will try the hair to see if it keeps them pesky squirrels out. I’ve tried red pepper and cat litter with no success. I find water is really more the key in to fruit size and quantity harvested. I use coffee grounds when I don’t have worm castings and or compost. >^,,^<

Marie Monsour
Marie Monsour
4 years ago

I’m so proud of my husband for his efforts to bring back our garden this year! He created an incredible composting system, and our children are beginning to understand the goodness of recycling not only plastics and metals that go into the recycle bin but also now the food scraps that get composted. I do have a question about lawn service companies and the chemicals they use to fight weeds in the grass. I assume these chemicals are the same kind of pesticides that we want to avoid in our garden. Since we live in a neighborhood where all the lawns are manicured and well-kept, it is hard to keep ours looking nice without having the lawn care service. Can anyone recommend an organic method of lawn care that is affordable and possibly could be self-applied rather than hiring an expensive service?

Rebecca Littlejohn
Rebecca Littlejohn
4 years ago

I garden organically & began doing so when spinach, lettuce & other items I used to purchase began making people sick. At first, I was just composting in a pile but now we have a double bin that turns (using a handle). I use a few drops of Norwex dish washing liquid mixed with white vinegar & water to deter pests on some of the things I like to grow but that attract them (basil, greens, etc.). It feels great to be able to control some of the pesticide exposure & to harvest from my own garden. In my opinion, it worth the effort & I have learned so much.

Ashley Saunders
Ashley Saunders
4 years ago

I love to garden and enjoy being outdoors, sometimes though I don’t think my gardens like me 🙂 I have a hard time keeping plants alive

SoniaStephKevlin
SoniaStephKevlin
4 years ago

I’m definitely in between. i like to try to use the most organic things i can in my garden, but seeing as i have a very active 1 year old, time is definitely not on my side when it comes to just about anything haha. I’ve always wanted to have a garden of fruits and veggies, and i tried the completely organic route when she was a newborn and had alot more time on my hands… and the bugs.. invested everything! no matter what i did! 🙁 i dont foresee a fruit and veg garden in my future. but a flower garden yes!

JoAnne Gill
JoAnne Gill
4 years ago

I’ve had a backyard garden for a few years, my son liked to help me grow things. It can be a lot of work but it’s nice to go grab a pepper or what have you, when I need one.

Dawn Peets
Dawn Peets
4 years ago

I live in a more urban area but decided to give it a go this year. My neighbors were amazed that my 5 gallon bucket tomato plant produced nearly 50 tomatoes. I bought a self watering system that was large enough to plant lettuce, cucumber, and peppers. We are still enjoying our cucumbers and peppers. I will definitely do it again next year. Gardening has been my little piece of heaven. We had an issue with white flies and I did everything organically to take care of the pests rather use pesticides.

Jennifer Rottman
Jennifer Rottman
3 years ago

I really need to try and love gardening. I just have a hard time getting good results.

Sharon Campese
Sharon Campese
3 years ago

I even make sprays for the garden with baking soda, water and Norwex dish soap. Better than commercial products!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
3 years ago

This has gotten me excited for gardening.. it helps that my organic seed catalog just arrived earlier this week!