Just as shopping in the supermarket or greengrocer affords the option of buying organic or conventional produce, so too do gardeners have a choice as to whether to go for the organic or non-organic route. This applies to everything from the seeds chosen to the soil used to the pest and weed control practices employed.
Which is right for you? Here we break each down…
What is Considered to be Organic Gardening?
Organic gardening refers to cultivating plants without using chemical or synthetic (man-made) fertilizers, pest control, or weed killers. Organic gardeners use natural and more labor-intensive methods of growing and caring for their plants – for example, mulching, and removing pests by hand.
What is Considered to be Non-Organic Gardening?
Non-organic, or “conventional” gardening uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to control weeds and pests and to enhance growth.
Organic Gardening: Pros and Cons
- Environmentally-Friendly – this method of gardening is all-natural, and causes no harm to the soil, waterways, insect, or animal life. Organic fertilizers improve soil quality.
- Nutrient-Rich – Organically grown foods are more nutritious than conventional crops, with higher levels of nutrients including magnesium, Vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, and others.
- Chemical-Free – with no use of chemical weedkillers or pesticides, the soil is free of chemicals and as such, so are your food plants. This is safer for you and your family, as well as local bird, animal, aquatic and insect life.
- Saves Money – organically-grown food at home is much more affordable than purchasing it in a store, and organic gardening has no costs for weed killers, pest killers, or fertilizers.
- Lower Yield – composting is the best organic fertilization method. This is a slow-release mode of nutrient delivery to your plants, and as a result of this, the yield will be smaller than that of a chemical fertilization method. You may also see more of your harvest munched on by bugs and other garden inhabitants.
- Time/Labor Consuming – successful organic gardening is more time consuming and labor-intensive than conventional gardening. It requires planning, companion planting, crop rotation, hand-weeding, composting, manual soil preparation, and hand-removal of pests.
Non-Organic Gardening: Pros and Cons
- Higher Yield – conventional, chemical fertilizers are powerful plant food and will boost growth enormously.
- Time and Labor Friendly – store-bought pesticides, fertilizers, and weed killers are quick to apply and instantly kill pests, boost growth quickly, and kill weeds thoroughly.
- Environmental Implications – chemicals used leach into the soil and can be washed into the water system, including creeks, lakes, and rivers. This causes oxygen-sapping algae blooms and disrupts the natural ecosystem. Groundwater and drinking water sources can be contaminated. Pesticides and weed killers kill and maim beneficial pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and ladybugs, and can be harmful to birds and animals. Conventional methods of gardening can weaken plants in the longer term.
- Compromised Nutrients – conventionally-grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs are not as nutritious as organic ones and may not be as flavorsome.
- Health Impacts – exposure to pesticides in humans and pets can lead to many health issues, allergies and irritations.
Which Type of Gardening is Right for You
Gardening is a fantastic hobby, and particularly ideal while we are self-isolating! It does not necessarily require an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to organic versus non-organic; you may elect to compost but use a pest spray or use a store-bought synthetic fertilizer while favoring natural pest control methods. But if you aspire to the healthiest garden, growing the most nutritious foods in the most Eco-friendly way, encouraging gorgeous bees, butterflies, and ladybugs to your garden, then organic gardening is the way to go. It’s great for you, for your family, and it’s not only very satisfying but fun too!