Weeding Out Some Common Organic Gardening Myths

Whether you consider yourself green or otherwise, you’ve probably heard a few organic gardening myths in your time. Here’s the truth about four popular ones.

Just about everyone’s interested in organic gardening from one viewpoint or another, so it’s no surprise that organic gardening myths might pop up in the garden of public opinion. Myths both pro and con are easy to come by — so we’ll cover both sides of the issue in this article.

Myth 1: Organic gardening is a lot more expensive than traditional gardening.

Not really…and when you get right down to it, organic gardening is traditional gardening. We’ve been using tons of manmade chemicals on our crops and flowers only for about a century. Before that everything was grown using organic methods — and if yields were less, at least they were consistent.

In the short term, you may very well put more money into organic gardening, but ultimately, it won’t be more expensive than using chemicals. This organic gardening myth fails to take into account the fact that chemicals become less effective over time, so eventually it may cost more to garden the “modern” way.

Myth 2: Organic fertilizers and pesticides are safe, no matter how much is used.

Well…let’s just say they’re safer than chemical versions, because they’re natural. But just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless. If that was the case, you could eat peach seeds with impunity, curare would be no big deal, and pig farms wouldn’t have such nasty reputations.

While organic fertilizers may be less toxic than their chemical cousins, some can still be toxic in quantity, especially manures — despite organic gardening myth to the contrary. It’s a well-established fact, for example, that too much manure (or the wrong kind) could chemically burn plants due to excess nitrogen content.

Myth 3: A flower is a flower, and a vegetable is a vegetable.

Actually, the line between ornamental plants and edible ones is becoming more and more blurred. The movement is called “edible landscaping.” Fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs, spices, berry bushes and the like can all be woven into the constructed landscape and harvested as they mature.

This is one organic gardening myth that people are starting to break free from in a serious way — so much so that even some flowers are becoming fair game. Examples include nasturtiums, dandelions, squash blossoms, calendula, carnations…there are dozens of edible flowers. http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/blflowers.htm

Myth 4: If produce is labeled as organic, it’s automatically safe for human consumption.

It would be comforting to believe that this was true. Unfortunately, it is false. First of all, you have to be careful about what’s labeled organic. The regulations vary by state, and some otherwise organic farmers will use chemicals and antibiotics when they must to control pests and diseases that threaten their harvest.

Remember that manure that’s often used as fertilizer? Well, it may be natural, but it can be loaded with bacteria and other pathogens if it’s not composted right. So scrub all your vegetables, even organic ones, before you eat them — or you may well end up cursing yourself for falling for this organic gardening myth.