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.
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.