You will save money not only by growing your own food, but you can even make a little extra cash on the side by selling your own all-natural foods that are so popular in the grocery stores these days. If you have canned all the tomatoes you can and still have bushels left over, you can take the extra to the farmer’s market and sell your organic tomatoes to others who don’t have the advantage of their own garden.
For any gardener who still hasn’t been convinced about the need to garden organically, here are some statistics that may help change your mind. In March of 2001, the American Cancer Society published a report linking the use of the herbicide glyphosate (commonly sold as Round-up) with a 27% increased likelihood of contracting Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
John Hopkins University also revealed that home gardeners use almost 10 times more pesticide per acre than the average farmer and that diseases caused by
environmental illness, exposure to chemicals etc., is now the number one cause of death in the U.S. With the EPA’s recent phasing out of common pesticides such as Dursban and Diazinon, we are now realizing that many of the chemicals that we thought were “safe” were never actually tested to see what their affect on children, women, and the elderly could be. The time has come to reassess our dependence on pesticides.
However, you may be asking why are chemicals so bad if we’ve been using them for years and years?
THE RISK OF CHEMICALS
We have chemicals in our everyday lives everywhere. Shampoo, toothpaste, many foods, even our clothing all contain or are manufactured with the use of chemicals. Besides polluting the environment, the use of chemicals can be much more threatening. But we’re concentrating on gardening and the use of these chemicals on our food. One of the prominent ways chemicals are used in food production is through chemical fertilizers.
Chemical fertilizers are quick-acting, short-term plant boosters and are responsible for:
1. Deterioration of soil friability creating hardpans soil
2. Destruction of beneficial soil life, including earthworms
3. Altering vitamin and protein content of certain crops
4. Making certain crops more vulnerable to diseases
5. Preventing plants from absorbing some needed minerals.
The soil must be regarded as a living organism. An acid fertilizer, because of its acids, dissolves the cementing
material, made up of the dead bodies of soil organisms, which holds the rock particles together in the form of soil crumbs. This compact surface layer of rock particles encourages rain water to run off rather than enter the soil.
For example, a highly soluble fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, goes into solution in the soil water rapidly so that much of it may be leached away into our ground water without benefiting the plants at all. This chemical causes the soil to assume a cement-like hardness. When present in large concentrations, they seep into the subsoil where they interact with the clay to form impervious layers of precipitates called hardpan.
Many artificial chemical fertilizers contain acids, as sulfuric and hydrochloric, which will increase the acidity of the soil. Changes in the soil acidity (pH) are accompanied by the changes in the kinds of organisms which can live in the soil. For this reason, the artificial fertilizer people tell their customers to increase the organic matter content of their soil or use lime to offset the effects of these acids.
There are several ways by which artificial fertilizers reduce aeration of soils. Earthworms, whose numerous borings made the soil more porous, are killed.
The acid fertilizers will also destroy the cementing material which bins rock particles together in crumbs. Chemical fertilizers rob plants of some natural immunity by killing off the micro organisms in the soil.
Many plant diseases have already been considerably checked when antibiotic producing bacteria or fungi thrived around the roots. When plants are supplied with much nitrogen and only a medium amount of phosphate, plants will most easily contract mosaic infections. Host resistance is obtained if there is a small amount of nitrogen and a large supply of phosphate. Fungus and bacterial diseases have been related to high nitrogen fertilization, and lack of trace elements.
Plants grown with artificial chemical fertilizers tend to have less nutrient value than organically grown plants. For example, several tests have found that by supplying citrus fruits with a large amount of soluble nitrogen will lower the vitamin C content of oranges. It has also been found, that these fertilizers that provide soluble nitrogen will lower the capacity of corn to produce high protein content.
Probably the most regularly observed deficiency in plants treated continually with chemical fertilizers is deficiencies in trace minerals. To explain this principle will mean delving into a little physics and chemistry, but you will then easily see the unbalanced nutrition created in chemical fertilized plants.
The colloidal humus particles are the convoys that transfer most of the minerals from the soil solution to the root hairs. Each humus particle is negatively charged and will, attract the positive elements, such as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, boron, iron, copper and other metals. When sodium nitrate is dumped into the soil year after year, in large doses, a radical change takes place on the humus articles.
The very numerous sodium ions (atomic particles) will eventually crowd out the other ions, making them practically unavailable for plant use. The humus becomes coated with sodium, glutting the root hairs with the excess. Finally, the plant is unable to pick up the minerals that it really needs.
So, with chemical fertilizers, in short, you have short-time results, and long-term damage to the soil, ground water and to our health.
Another reason to avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides is that long term use of such chemicals can deplete the soil and leave it unable to sustain further growth. In many cases beds of perennials suddenly stop blooming for no apparent reason, and the culprit is often found to be the overuse of chemical fertilizers, herbicides