Why an organic garden?

Today I was doing some reflecting and it occurred to me that my reasons for doing what I do now are far different from what they were when I started.

Years ago when I started my gardening journey I decided to do it organically. Back then I didn't know much, if anything, about gardening or the toxins that could potentially be in the food we eat. I have to admit that my decision was based on the fact that I couldn't afford to purchase pest deterrents or fertilizers. I had plenty of material that could easily be composted.

Fast forward to today, I have spent so much time learning, studying, and networking that I have a whole different perspective on life in general. I'm so glad that I made the decision to go organic even if I didn't realize the best reason at the time.

What reasons did you start organic gardening? Are they different today than they were the day you started? How has your journey helped you grow?


  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I never liked chemicals although I did not know way back then how truly damaging they were.

    I also liked being able to eat a veggie right out in the garden, something you could never do in a non organic garden.

    I guess the biggest takeaways I have from organic gardening is how much healthier the soil is if you do not use chemicals and a totally organic garden is healthier and has less insect issues.

    I would not grow any other way. I also do not use Miracle Grow. I use worm compost tea, comfrey tea or compost tea.

  • I learned it the organic way from my father. He had severe allergic reactions to chemicals due to work exposure and at times could not work due to the reactions he got. He did organic gardening for health and that never changed for me.

    Ally learning only deepened the feeling that it is the right way to go even if it is sometimes the hard and Rocky (stony is to light here 😉) way.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,842 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Many years ago while studying Ornamental Horticulture I took a soils class taught by an Oil Company employee and learned a lot about petroleum products so started to look for that in fertilizers and I one of the other classes I took we learned about chemicals in the soil due to pollution and poor practices, I also did a report on Arsenic which has a very long half-life and can still be found in soil because of pesticides that contained arsenic and other chemicals.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    I just sort of stumbled into organic gardening without realizing that's what it was. As a child I learned about gardening from my father, who did it the way his family had always done it, since time before commercial pesticides were available. I never started using chemicals in my own garden because it didn't seem right; just continued doing things the way our family always did them, without thinking about it much, or even considering that there might be other ways.

    The wake-up came when I moved from the Pacific Northwest to Missouri just over 30 years ago now--different climate, different soil, different trees, wild plants and weeds--the air felt different, the woods looked different--even the birdsong was different. (A bird I kept hearing, but couldn't spot for weeks and weeks nearly drove me crazy--it sounded so almost-but-not-quite familiar. Finally saw the bird, and it was an eastern meadowlark, who sings in a "different dialect" from a western meadowlark!) I still remember how disorienting all it felt. And of course my new neighbors had different gardening practices. It was the first time I saw lots of chemicals in use, and did not like it. That's when I started reading about gardening.

    The big breakthrough for me came about ten years ago, when I stumbled across permaculture. Much of it resonated with the way my family had always done things, but took that to both broader and deeper levels. Studying permaculture has really re-shaped the way I think about gardening, and my relationship to the land in general.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I also studied Permaculture. Its a great base and you can tweak it to fit your lifestyle. I like agriscaping and small space gardening too so I blend them all.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @Michelle D I fell into organic gardening by giving myself an attitude adjustment re agricultural farming. I finished Ag College in 1980, back then it was all about using synthetic fertilisers, chemicals, drenches etc and I never questioned it. About 1990 I had a revelation and thought about different, healthier ways to farm. In 2004, I eventually owned my own farm and decided to trial organic, biodynamics etc. I used compost and lime and organic liquid fertiliser to keep nutrition up in my paddocks. I never used drench or vaccines on my cattle and goats (i made an organic lick mix for them)and I welcomed weeds and just slashed or mulched them back into the ground for organic matter. My input costs decreased dramatically and my property and animals were very healthy.

    So I did the same for my vegetable garden. Now that I am retired and no longer a farmer, I put all my efforts into my veggie garden and believe soil health is one of the biggest factors in growing good food. With that I have also decreased my red meat consumption(as I no longer produce it and don’t know its history!)

    I am genuinely proud to say, I’ve had a complete about face with my original thinking and truly believe I’m on the right path. Thanks for posting this interesting topic.

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭

    I prefer organic because it's healthier, better for the environment and more sustainable.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    We didn't have a vegetable garden when I was growing up in Seattle. But dad did have fruit trees in the back yard and some berries. Even though he was raised on a farm in Iowa, he seemed to think that the latest and greatest was to spray his fruit trees so he could raise "prefect" fruit. He must have known deep down that it wasn't good since he made sure that me and my sister didn't go out in the garden while he was spraying.

    I really don't know what originally drew me to organic gardening. Maybe it was just a hippy rebellion thing, " don't do it the way your parents did." I subscribed for many years to Organic Gardening magazine, even though I really didn't do all that much gardening then. But now, with the way things are going, I've actually been doing more gardening the past several years and definitely plan on doing as much as I can this year. Maybe not raising half of our food yet, but probably realistically more like a quarter, and working up from there. We are still working on the infrastructure of our gardening area and will need to work out kinks that arise.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,423 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant I grew up with the idea that chemicals aren't all bad and that the ones used in agriculture must not be a problem because they were approved for that kind of use. Just typing that it sounds so crazy! We are so susceptible when we are young! No one ever talked about soil health. Keeping the soil healthy didn't matter. We aren't eating the soil... I'm so glad that I have learned better.

    @Jens How wonderful it is to learn skills from our parents. It sounds like your father is a really blessing! I did learn many skills from my parents. Sadly, growing food was not one of them. I grew up hearing stories of the farm where my mother lived as a child. It was a very self sufficient homestead. My mom was young when the government took over half of the property to build a highway. She never really learned any of the skills from her father so she couldn't pass them on to me.

    @Lisa K was that class your catalyst into organic gardening or an addition to your motivations. I really haven't gotten that in depth into learning how horrible it all can really be. I sometimes wonder if I could really handle the whole truth.

    @jodienancarrow Way to go! I love your story. I hope to one day have a farm. Hearing other peoples successes is always an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing it.

    @MaryRowe I have just in the last few weeks started looking into permaculture. I'm very excited about the possibilities. I never thought about how the lessons that I am learning now on my current property and the problems/solutions might be totally different if I moved to a new area. Thanks for sharing that perspective.

    @marjstratton rebellion is as good a reason as any lol. My growing space seems to grow each year. I think that my infrastructure will always be a work in progress. As I learn more and find ways to do better I want to make changes. Every year I tell myself "You're really busy. Don't go over board on the garden." Yet I always seem to let it happen. I couldn't tell you what percentage of our food I actually grow. I'm not up to half yet either and I definitely hope to get to a point where I'm doing more than half. Like I said, a work in progress.

    @karenjanicki have you always grown organic?

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I grew up around farmers who used bags of chemicals too but from some reason it never sounded right to me.

    I am also a master gardener and there are two set of gardeners in our group. The ones who never touch chemicals and the ones who use them all the time.

    If you give a garden and land time it will heal from chemicals and ther veggies and fruits will be so much better.

    And permaculture is very cool. I love stacking functions and overall garden and property design. Lots of great ideas there

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I find that the deeper you get into permaculture, the more it becomes a lifestyle and a way of seeing the world--a philosophy of life, I guess. I think it is that emphasis on the endless network of relationships among all living things, and the realization that all things in Nature are living. Also the integration of the accumulated wisdom of traditional cultures, their worldviews and methods of producing food and relating to the world around them.

    It has made my little plot of land endlessly fascinating as I discover more and more of the intricate relationships in the life on it, and I realize I can study this place the rest of my life and still not learn all there is to know about it. I also find that I don't think if my "garden" as just the fenced off area where i grow most of my vegetables any more. Even in terms of food production alone, I think of the whole acreage as a unit made up of inter-related parts, wild, domesticated, and intermixed.

    I wouldn't quite call permaculture a "religion," but it certainly has a spiritual aspect to it that is compatible with and enhances many different religious traditions.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,842 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I was already leaning that way and the classes just made me more aware.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,318 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I used to have a garden at my old house and used chemicals but never felt good about it. Then, I learned about what those chemicals do to you & the soil, about GMO's, etc and decided to try an organic garden at this house. It hasn't been easy for me but every year I learn more and more. I really love my winter garden because my greens, broccoli, & cauliflower grow on their own with very little work and hardly any pests. My summer garden is pretty much the opposite but I've learned a lot from this group.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    I too have gardened mostly organically because I did not like buying the poisons and was afraid of using them. I also say that I was too lazy to use them. Now, I am glad because it means that my soil is good. Having watched Lynn Gillepsie's explanation of feeding the microbes, rather than killing them off, I understand better why I should used organic fertilizer, which I plan to use this year. If you buy in a larger quantity, you can pay less per unit, and thus save money overall.

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    I started gardening organically mostly because that's how my mom and dad gardened. I don't think I even realized you could garden with chemicals.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭

    @Michelle D Organic and natural gardening that respect and work with nature appeal to me because I think the universe is spectacular and the works of men... kinda lame? The long term plan is often not considered, and should be. Things catch up with us all!

    Also to get superior nutrition from healthy soil, build soil naturally, ie. use organic methods. Glysophate & GMOs, toxins added to our foods do not support health and longevity.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    I learned about non chemical foods long before i started growing anything. I guess that worked out well because i didn't have anything to unlearn.