The global environmental crisis has led to much talk about sustainability, proper waste management, and green living. These discussions include growing crops organically to minimize farming's carbon footprint. Since organically grown crops are not treated with chemicals, the fruits and vegetables do not contain harmful compounds that pollute the waters and the soil.
No doubt about it, organic gardening is the much better choice as far as minimizing one’s environmental impact goes. But is organic gardening really made out to be less harmful to the environment or are there certain factors that you have to consider before giving this gardening technique a try? We have to look at both sides to gain a much deeper understanding of the real benefits of organic gardening. In this guide, we are outlining the many benefits and some drawbacks of organic gardening:
The Advantages of Organic Gardening
Organically grown produce is much healthier than chemical-treated fruits and vegetables. Crops that are grown without using pesticides or herbicides are tastier, more colorful, and healthier because the crops utilized the benefits of a nutrient-dense soil.
Organically grown fruits and veggies are much tastier because they were given more time to develop. As the crops mature, their taste and nutrient profile improve as well. Since you are consuming more nutrient-rich foods, your health improves too! The same thing cannot be said for chemically treated fruits and vegetables. The crops are not given enough time to mature so the nutrients and flavor are not as developed.
Environmentally Friendly Practice
Growing crops without using chemicals is more eco-friendly because the crops are grown just as nature intended. You are not using pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, which are essentially poisons that pollute the soil and waterways.
In addition, organically grown produce is often sold locally, which minimizes growers’ carbon footprint. Transporting fresh produce by large-scale farmers tends to use up a lot of energy and this harms the environment. Since organically produced fruits and vegetables are locally sold, it eliminates the waste of fossil fuels.
You might think that organically grown crops are more vulnerable to pests and diseases because they are not chemically treated but the opposite is true: organically grown plants are more resistant to diseases and pests.
Since the plants are grown just as nature intended, the plants have developed resistance to certain diseases, naturally. When grown in nutrient-rich soils, the plants grow much healthier too, which increase their chances of survival even in the midst of an infestation.
Retain Soil Health
Unfortunately, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides do not discriminate. These chemicals will kill beneficial and destructive garden critters alike. Destroying the biodiversity of the soil may lead to weaker, more disease-prone crops.
When you are not using chemicals to treat your crops, your soil remains nutrient rich. That’s because you are not destroying the biodiversity of the soil. All the plant-friendly bacteria and garden critters are working hard putting the nutrients back into the soil. The result? Better soil and plant health!
It may seem like growing crops organically is more expensive than treating crops with chemicals but organic farming can be affordable too. Sure, it takes more effort to grow plants without using chemicals but the actual costs are minimal.
For one thing, you are not spending hundreds of dollars on chemical fertilizers and pesticides like industrial farmers. You can make your own compost and save $$$ on fertilizers too. You can also make a small earning by selling your compost to other growers. Your savings grow even more if you save your own seed! The fact is, organic gardening is self-generating. The initial outlay may take some time to set up but once your garden is up and running, you don’t need many resources to keep your farm going.
The Disadvantages of Organic Gardening
It Takes More Work
Yes, growing produce without using chemicals do take more work because the practice itself demands a high amount of interaction between the grower and the crops. As a grower, you want to make sure your crops are growing as healthily as possible and if you are not using chemicals, you are doubly cautious of diseases and pests. It’s true that controlling pests and invasive plants is much harder when you are not using pesticides and herbicides.
Some strategies that worked this growing season may not work next growing season. You have to constantly adjust your growing methods and refine your technique to achieve the best possible outcome. But if you are committed to producing chemical-free produce then all that hard work will be worth it.
If you are growing crops for profits then you know that organically grown fruits and vegetables are more expensive than chemically treated crops. Since it takes more work to grow fruits and vegetables without using chemicals, these products are more expensive and yes, consumers have to pay the price. But for discriminating consumers who want to enjoy fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables that contain zero traces of chemicals, the added costs are just a small price to pay.
Frequent Soil Amendments
To grow disease and pest resistant crops, you have to work closely with the soil. You have to amend the soil frequently to ensure that it provides all the nutrients that crops need to grow healthily. To amend the soil, you have to achieve the right balance of nutrients using organic fertilizers. And keeping the nutrient levels of the soil balanced is a challenge itself. Your crops could pay the price if you mistakenly used the wrong type or amount of organic fertilizers.
Since you are using organic fertilizers, there is also the possibility that pathogens may spread all over the garden. This could affect the next season’s crops. Animal manure contains pathogens that may harm plant and human health so always use cured animal manure.
While organic gardening has its own challenges, the benefits of this growing technique outweigh its drawbacks. Using the right product, adopting the best growing system and developing your own growing technique, all these will make organic gardening a success. For more gardening tips and useful resources, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!