Organic Logic

Well this is my rants and raves section so here’s a rant! I hope I don’t offend anyone but this is a subject that bugs me.

I’m all in favour of an organic approach to growing. It seems self-evident that working with nature is better than working against nature. But as gardeners we manipulate nature. We sow early under glass, we kill off weeds and the seeds we sow are the result of selective breeding to produce edible crops.

Most of our vegetables and quite a few of our flowers just wouldn’t survive in the wild. Natures way selects for the plants that are best at reproducing themselves rather than feeding us!

Now I don’t like pesticides, I don’t like massive use of herbicides and I don’t like general use of fertilisers. Despite the fact you can test a pesticide and decide a safe level for human consumption it’s impossible to test every combination. A bit of poison A may do no harm, a bit of poison B may well be safe but add the two together and you may well have something very dangerous in your system

Wandering around the plot with a spray of glyphosate, zapping every weed strikes me as being both bad gardening (it’s what you have a hoe for) but you must be building up some sort of residue over time. When we get to fertiliser use, there again throwing 4 oz per square yard of NPK over the plot is both wasteful and counter productive.

Now on the other hand, I have used anti-fungals to prevent / treat blight, the odd squirt of glyphosate to kill a perrenial weed established where I can’t easily get it out and boosted sweetcorn with a bit of high nitrogen fertilser.

So I’m not organic but I minimise my artificials as much as I think is reasonable. What bugs me is people who I have heard with a ‘holier than thou’ deriding the use of artificials happily spreading Growmore on their plot. The other ‘organic’ grower tends to plonk seeds in the ground without any thought of nutrition for the plant and wonders why they get a few straggly specimems that are best hidden on the compost heap.

They then proudly tell you “but these are organically grown” which is an insult to real organic gardeners who put a lot of effort into building a healthy soil and environment.

Even the organic associations like the HDRA or whatever they’ve re-branded themselves seem to lack logic. For example, you can use Amicide as a brushwood killer but not to deal with a weed like horsetail. Where is the logic in that? Using copper based (Bordeaux Mixture) for potato blight may be approved by the organic taliban but I’m not convinced that adding a toxic metal to the soil is safer for sonsumers and environment than a modern chemical fungicide.

Confusion between traditional and organic abounds. The Victorian gardener happily used arsenic based compounds, that’s traditional.

Perhaps I’m saying we should look for the happy medium, balance safety against results rather than lay down fixed and illogical guidelines.

Feel free to use the comments box below.

Posted in Rants and Raves
7 comments on “Organic Logic
  1. shaun says:

    john that is realy speaking sense thankyou shaun

  2. John says:

    Thanks Shaun,
    At least I’ve one visitor left!

  3. TopVeg says:

    What a relief to read some real common sense about organic gardening. I agree with you wholeheartedly. One reason for growing veg is because you know how they have been grown, & what they have been treated with. Traceability is not taken seriuosly in the shops & I just don’t trust people who think that looks are more important than safety and taste.

    What can be do with all those TV chefs who say buy an organic………..
    Thewy don’t understand the meaning of the word


  4. ClaireMc says:

    I’m new to gardening this year and the most surprising thing I’ve learned is that to grow veggies you have to declare war on nature – pulling up weeds, building barriers against birds and butterflies and the weather, holding things back or bringing them on. We haven’t had to resort to chemicals yet but if my tender little plants come under seious attack I can see myself losing all reason and buying a ray gun.

  5. John says:

    Hi ClaireMc
    I wouldn’t call it war on nature – more manipulation. Adjusting the natural order for our needs. You don’t need a ray gun – but a flame thrower (weed gun) is both useful and fun. At least for the men because we’re all boys at heart and love fires.

  6. yewtreemob says:

    I agree John. Common sense (rather than religious fervour) was what good gardeners used to be known for. I also think that the organic movement (and the whole environmental movement) has lost it’s way. Most people think organic means poison free (which it doesn’t) and that it means local (which unfortunately it often isn’t) and that it means better tasting (if only). Some organic splinter groups eg the “stockfree” organic movement do very good research rediscovering things gardners and farmers once knew but have forgotten! It didn’t use to have a label (ok maybe it was called “good idea”or “common sense”) but now it has a system name.


  7. John says:

    It does seem to ‘swing’ we went from natural to chemical where NPK and a spray for everything was the way to grow and now we’ve swung back I’ve nothing against an organic approach but let’s apply some logic and sense.
    As for splinter groups – well I’ve always said that 3 gardeners will give you 4 opinions on any given topic!

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