Organic Harvest Month
In an effort to push two healthy initiatives, September is designated as organic harvest month. The term “organic” emphasizes consuming food that is GMO-free and was not grown with any chemical additives; and gardening gives us the power to grow our own fruits, vegetables and herbs. To celebrate, many organic stores and co-ops have special events and sales, which is a great opportunity to teach children about the importance of organic gardening, as well. In this article, we will explore this awareness month and provide organic gardening tips.
What is Organic Gardening?
Growing an organic harvest means doing so with all natural ingredients that contain no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Food manufacturers have strict laws and regulations to follow to label their food as organic, per the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. When you purchase organic food, you can be certain that it came from certified farms and manufacturers that follow rigorous procedures. However, those that garden at home, simply do it to be more environmentally friendly and health conscious. These individuals understand that they have to get to know their soil, and then treat it with organic matter to help the soil become more nutrient-rich. They typically choose to compost, which is made from kitchen waste, leaves and grass clippings, to help the harvest grow. They also don’t purchase seeds that are genetically modified, or labeled as GMO, instead purchasing organic seeds and seedlings.
Benefits of Organic Gardening
Health Benefits – There are a multitude of benefits from consuming organic and non-gmo crops. The website Sustainable Baby Steps lists some of the potential mental and physical health hazards of consuming non-organic food. The University of Wisconsin-Madison cites an article by the journal Toxicology and Industrial Health, stating, “the natural mix of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, such as occurs when agricultural chemicals seep into groundwater, may have a broad range of effects on human and animal health, a new study shows.” Scientists have debated the truth about the dangers of non-organic food for years. No matter which side you believe, there is no arguing that choosing to eat organic takes away the risk, no matter how small, of the pesticides and herbicides. A study conducted by the European Union, as reported by Medical News Today, stated that organic fruits and vegetables “are more nutritious than non-organically produced food and may contain higher concentrations of cancer fighting and heart beneficial antioxidants.”
Furthermore, adding commercial fertilizers is often dangerous for pets and small children, who could end up ingesting it. If the fertilizer is eaten right out of a bag that had accidentally been left open, it can cause serious health problems or even death.
Environmental Benefits – Conventional gardening poses a threat to the environment, affecting the air, animals and insects, water, etc. For example, the pesticides that are meant to kill pests that destroy the garden often don’t discriminate, and end up killing beneficial insects, affecting bee and butterfly populations. Additionally, synthetic herbicides and pesticides end up running off into the groundwater, polluting it for the people and animals that consume it. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that organic gardening retains organic carbon in the soil, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which plays a huge role in climate change.
Tips for Organic Gardening
- Use Natural Ingredients – The first, and most obvious tip for organic gardening, is not to use any commercial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Instead, turn to natural ingredients and organic matter to help the soil and the crops flourish. Try composting, mulch, and Dr. Willard’s Plantcatalyst, to add life to your garden. Plantcatalyst, made with natural ingredients, helps plants maximize the nutrients added to grow faster, healthier, and produce more crops.
- Recycle – To be more eco-conscious, try to recycle your supplies in the garden. Mother Earth News provides the following tips: using blankets from the thrift shop to cover plants during the cold season; recycling drinking cups to grow tomato seedlings; using old pantyhose as gardening ties, etc.
- Pick the Right Plants – Some new gardeners pick random plants to grow, and when they don’t thrive, use commercial products to help them survive. Instead, research what is appropriate for your location by checking the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Pick plants that are natural to your geographic location, and find out when the appropriate time of the year to grow them is.
- Rotate Crops – A great tip is to rotate your crops annually. This will prevent common diseases, weeds and insects that can destroy your fruits and vegetables. When you change out the crops, you eliminate the pathogens that are used to the host crop, making it unable to affect the new variety of crops.
- Water in the Morning – Early morning is the best time to water plants as it’s usually not hot enough for the water to evaporate quickly, and will help you save water. Furthermore, cooler temperatures and winds can promote bacteria to grow on your plants if you water them closer to night.
Organic gardening is good for the body and the soul. It has been shown that being outside helps people to absorb Vitamin D, building up their immune system, and has even been shown to fight depression. Skip the commercial additives, and choose to go green for health benefits and to save the environment.