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gardening without chemicals

I don't garden organically.

First of all because I don't necessarily agree with the rules that define 'organic' - certain pesticides can still be used for example, and the rules seem to have slipped over to animal welfare. Don't get me wrong - I don't think animals should be kept cruelly, but are we not mixing issues here?

Secondly, I am not always convinced 'organic' is kinder to the environment. When you see organic veg that has been imported from overseas, and is extra wrapped (to separate it from the none organic produce) you do have to wonder.

Thirdly, to be truly organic it would mean I would only eat organic, and therefore the kitchen scraps that go on the compost heap would be organic. I would have to source my seeds from organic supplliers, and refuse all offers of plant swaps,vegetable gifts and food offerings - unless I could be sure they too were organic. and no - I don't do all this. I'm afraid I am not so pure.

What I do do, and have done for over ten years now, is garden without chemicals. I don't use any pesticides.. which means we do suffer from garden pests, although have developed chemical free stragedies. I don't use fertilizers other than the black gold from my compost heap, and I am going to have a go at making my own liquid feed. As for the flower garden, well I am a big fan of the cottage garden anyway, which are usually full of tough pest resistant self seeding perenials, and whilst I am willing to put up a battle for my food, my philosophy regarding the flowers is, if they get eaten by slugs or other pests.. then they were not meant to be in my garden!

Why? well basically its about self preservation, I don't really want to eat food that has had various pesticides and other nasties added to it, and I don't want to live amongst it either. I don't want to accidentally attack the wrong creature or harm my pets. On top of that - the making of these garden chemicals involve further environmental implications.. pollution and waste materials etc.

Now I realise I could be criticised for having this view point about my home by not applying these rules to the items I buy - but here we enter a really difficult area of discussion. Is it realistic that the whole nation could eat kindly brought up organic meat? and additive free veg? is it just the lucky few who can make this (expensive) choice and feel smug? Is, as I have already wondered, buying organic worse for the environment in the long run? Its really not as simple as looking for the right label and taking it from there. As I make each decision, then I act on it - when I have to buy eggs, I always buy British and free range - so thats locally sourced (as much as possible) and best welfare, I buy my pork from the butcher who sells free range local meat - so thats supporting the local shops, keeping down the food miles and animal welfare and so on.

So, whilst it can be confusing sometimes which vote to cast with your purse - locally sourced vs organic vs ecconomically sensible vs environmentally friendly vs better packaging vs fair trade vs food miles and so on and on, when it comes to gardening, both flowers and food, you can make that simple decision, to manage without the chemicals.