You’ve probably heard the term ‘organic’ thrown around, applying to everything from produce to processed foods like pizzas and veggie burgers. As a marketing term, organic elicits images of beautiful green fields, fruits and vegetables grown without scary biochemical labs or chemicals of any kind, and perfect, healthy food. In reality, it’s all a little bit more complicated than that. So what is organic gardening? How does it differ from conventional gardening? Let’s dive in.
What is organic gardening?
Organic gardening is a style of gardening that produces food without the use of chemically formulated products like antibiotics, pesticides, and fertilizers. Organic gardening instead relies on plant and animal-based fertilizer and non-chemical pest control methods.
It’s all about what you don’t use
Every garden experiences problems. Wild animals can go through your crops, soil gets depleted after repeated use, bugs chew up your plants – there’s really a ton of ways it can all go wrong, and there are tons of products on the market to help you fix all of them. But many of those products are petrochemical-based, products made with petroleum and natural gas. Petrochemicals are used to make everything from explosives to fertilizers and pesticides.
Petrochemical-based garden products can have unfortunate consequences for your health and the environment alike. Organic gardening seeks to alleviate the need for these products without sacrificing your crop.
So how exactly do you alleviate those problems without all those effective but unhealthy synthetic chemicals? The answer strikes at the heart of organic gardening: by creating a healthy ecosystem in which your garden thrives.
Cultivating an ecosystem
When you plant an organic garden, you aren’t just creating an ecosystem for yourself to feed from but for countless millions of other creatures to consume as well. This means using compost and manure to build your soil, planting a diverse array of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers to attract different pollinators, and looking for natural ways to control pests, like lady bugs and praying mantises.
Conventional gardening and farming uses a sort of scorched-earth approach toward dealing with pests. The synthetic chemicals used on this farms and in these gardens kills all pests. But that’s not really the objective of organic gardening. You don’t have to destroy every pest creature in order to get what you need from your garden. The goal is to use natural methods to mitigate the damage caused by those pests. There is no need to wipe them out.
The benefits of organic gardening
The benefits of organic gardening are pretty clear once you’ve done it a while: when you create a healthy, organic, natural ecosystem for your garden, you grow strong, robust plants that will be immune to many of the diseases that plague conventionally grown gardens.
And let’s face it, the vegetables taste otherworldly.