Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Learning from the Master

Jane and I are on the threshold of becoming organic gardeners. Given that lately we have precious little time on our hands, this foray into organic do-it-yourself gardening seems quite daunting and, well, miraculous. Little by little we are getting our garden in shape without a whiff from our toxic friend, the pesticide.

Once upon a time we humans saw ourselves pitted against nature, a formidable foe that we vanquished with synthetic chemicals, artificial flavouring and botox. Ok, we’re still there. But times they are a changing. For a report on organic produce’s increasing popularity, click here.

It’s time we made peace with our arch nemesis and give it the respect it deserves. And what better way to begin than by starting your own organic garden.

Organic gardens take time and lots and lots of patience and will. Expect trial and error. Expect mistakes and always always expect spots on the apples. It’s all about strategy because really, you’re learning to nurture a little eco-system. This weekend Jane and I start planting. With carrots and beets, we will be sure to plant onions to repel the carrot rust fly and aphids, etc., etc. I think you get the idea.

When you use pesticides, which were developed during the war as potential chemical weapons, you are replacing the birds, worms and beneficial insects with chemicals that may offer a quick fix but in the long run require increasingly stronger dosages, kill beneficial creatures and poison the land.

Tanya Denckla in her book The Organic Gardener’s Home Reference equates pesticides with crack cocaine. You’re on it for the quick fix – the buzz and once you’re on it, it’s hard to get off. It may feel good at the beginning but it becomes extremely damaging.

Tanya provides some interesting stats on pesticides that she took from a 1991 Greenpeace report:

  • US pesticide use increased by 3000% since 1940
  • Pesticide potency in the US increased by 1000% since 1940
  • The US lost 31% of its crops to insects in 1940
  • In 1991, the US lost 37% of its crops to insects
  • Sweden reduced its pesticide use by 50% between 1985 and 1990
  • There was no decline in crop yields in Sweden during that time

The moral of this story: we should all replace pesticides with our brains. Let’s be smart farmers, not pesticide addicts.

I’m just getting into it but The Organic Gardener’s Home Reference is proving to be a great resource.

In the News

Billions of Dollars Pledged to Cut Urban Energy Use
Clinton invests in energy efficiency in major cities – including Toronto.

Scientists Back Off Theory of a Colder Europe in a Warming World
We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Europe may not freeze due to global warming after all. It’s just going to get warmer. Fabulous!

Incredible Shrinking Packages
Major companies take the lead in reducing packaging with plans for zero waste. They’re catching on to the idea that reduced packaging and zero waste is profitable.

Other News

Green Bloggers

Ecoshock Radio

Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

BBC – The Greenroom

New York Times – Environment


sp said...

I found your blog via red jane's blog and I think our paths may have crossed at one time in Toronto (perhaps catering?) way back when. There may have been cat stories shared.

Congrats on delving into the organic gardening world. My signif. other and I started organic gardening in Toronto and produced some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, herbs and lots of other veggies. We had much success. On our small plot we crop rotated as best we could and dealt with "pests" (mostly aphids) with nasturtiums and nothing more than an enviro-friendly soap, water and a drop of veg oil. We rescued our basil from slugs using copper blocker that worked beautifully.
Good luck with the garden. It's so rewarding on so many levels.

Cheryl McNamara said...

Thanks SP for the tips and encouragement. Nice to know about the copper blockers, nasturtiums, green friendly soap and veg oil.