I decided several years ago that I didn't want to mess with chemicals in my garden. It was an easy choice for me. We had kids and I didn't want to risk their exposure to dangerous substances. I didn't want to eat food covered in chemicals at the dinner table. A tomato with a side of pesticide just wasn't a recipe option here. While my choice was mostly for family reasons there exist a number of other reasons just as important to avoid the chemicals in the garden.
Maybe I should be more specific though, rather than just chemicals lets say synthetic chemicals. Organic materials can be chemicals as well but they come from more natural sources. Organic chemical derived from natural sources are going to break down better in our environment.
One major concern I have with chemicals is the impact on beneficial insects. These insects do a lot of work without much recognition. They pollinate flowers and vegetables, they patrol our gardens for pest insects, they break down materials into plant usable forms like compost. It's about the birds and the bees and other wildlife too. Insects are food source for birds and animals. Bees pollinate our crops. Many vegetables require pollination to create fruit. Curcurbits (we're talking squash, melons, and cucumbers) have male and female flowers and need a mechanism to transport pollen from one to the other. You really don't want to have to hand pollinate your whole garden! If you use a pesticide on your plants you'll not only get the bad bugs but the good ones as well. Losing a plant or two every now and then is a small price to pay to keep our system going.
Instead of harsh chemicals I use plants that attract other insects (cosmos is a great one). I water with herbal water made from pest repellent plants to help keep bugs away. It's easy to make just put a few appropriate herbs (some I use are catnip, mints, and oregano) in a bucket of water and let it steep for a day or so. I'll even throw in some 2 inch pieces of willow branches in the water to encourage auxins to stimulate good growth in my plants.
Healthy soil is the key to a healthy garden. If you're plants have great soil then they can withstand some damage by the insects you don't like. You can't use synthetic chemicals (fertilizers) to achieve better soil. They just feed the plant who becomes a "drug" addict who constantly needs another dose to function. Healthy soil, brought about by adding compost and organic matter, will continually nourish the plants and the microbes in the soil that do all the important work of breaking down those materials.
Going organic has so many positive aspects to it and so few negatives that I have trouble understanding sometimes why people resist it. This year while you're gardening try to distance yourself from those chemicals. Look for alternatives for what you might normally use if you've used chemical treatments in your garden. The transition may take some research on your part but your garden will be better for it!
Labels: organic gardening