Garden Forever

Age Defying Gardening! The Importance of Organic Farming!

Organic gardening is not simply the avoidance of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Organic gardening encompasses a holistic philosophy that seeks to understand the balance between healthy soil, and plant and insect life cycles while finding ways to support a healthy ecosystem. Organic gardeners work with nature and observe the best times to intervene to control pests or boost productivity and plant health. Organic gardeners seek to enhance soil health while maximizing plant health and productivity without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

  • Organic Gardening (PDF) – This comprehensive resource guide from the Washington State University Extension department contains everything you need to be aware of concerning organic gardening. Sections cover soil management with the use of composts and mulching, how to build your own compost, comparisons of organic fertilizer options and chemical options, organic solutions to plant disease control and insect management.

  • Organic Lifestyles – Hosted by Texas University, this site is recommended as a great home base for home gardeners interested in an organic lifestyle. This site starts, as it should, in explaining soil composition and the knowing what type soil you currently have to work with. After identifying your soil, type discussions include compost, organic fertilizers, and mulching with specific attention to flowers, vegetables, herbs, lawns, and organic solutions to plant disease and pest control.

  • Basics of Organic Gardening (PDF) – This beautiful presentation of the basics of organic gardening boast the ability to present this information in fifteen minutes. You may find yourself lingering over the photos of gardens, plants, and even beneficial insects longer than that. However, you will also be convinced of the health and environment benefits organic gardening can bring. A special point of interest in this resource is the topic of biodiversity, mixing different varieties and types of plants within various areas. Biodiversity encompasses companion planting mixing different plants that grow especially well together.

  • Organic 101 – An introduction to Organic foods. Differences as well as the benefits to personal health and the environment are discussed here using a question and answer format. Organic food definitions as well as questions concerning cost, certification, and safety issues are discussed.

  • What’s so great about Organic Food? (PDF) – This article looks at the obstacles preventing many individuals from consuming organic food. At this time, availability and costs are the most common hindrances consumers come against. Lack of educations about the benefits to personal and environmental health also hinders the widespread demand for organic produce. This article acknowledges the debates surrounding nutritional differences but concludes with the understanding that we all have a responsibility to be aware of the food on our table and the price to the economy and environment that it takes to make it available.

The benefits of organic gardening include health benefits from the physical activities associated with gardening as well as the healthy food an organic garden produces. Organic gardening also offers long-term benefits to environmental and community healthy by decreasing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides linked to increase health risks. Conventional gardening relies on the use of pesticides that remain present in foods even after harvesting. These pesticides are known to contribute to weakened immune system, allergies, ADHD, and a host of other disorders. Organic gardening focuses on improving soil health and adds carbon into the soil that promotes healthy plants through the natural use of composted materials. Conventional gardening depletes the soil and attempts to make up for the lack of natural materials through the use of chemical fertilizers which then leach into underground waters sources and streams polluting water supplies and endangering fish and other aquatic life.

  • Are Organic Foods Safer? – By definition organic foods are those grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. This naturally lowers your risk of exposure to residual chemicals when consuming fresh produce. This report answers other frequently asked questions such as how can you know purchased foods are organic. Also considered is the debate over the nutritional and taste superiority of organic food over food produced using conventional means.

  • Organic vs. Inorganic Soil Amendments - This fact sheet list various choices for soil amendments to improve the physical properties of the soil. Available are tables showing the decomposition rates and water retention abilities for each type of amendment suggested several tables. Excessive wood products or fresh manures are best used only after being well composted.

  • Conventional Foods vs. Small Farm (organic) Foods – This video of a taste test shows some surprises with conventional foods occasionally winning the taste test. The biggest drawback to this taste test is that those tasting the foods knew which were organic before the taste test. This may have influenced results.

  • Organic vs. Conventional Farming: Same Yield – In this study spanning twenty-two years of comparing organic and conventional farms, Rodale found organic farming yields the same result but uses far less energy, water, while building healthy soil. Organic farming also uses no chemical pesticides to pollute the environment or raise health risks.

Even though it may seem complicated, organic gardening is not difficult once you understand a few principle concepts. Instead of focusing on feeding individual plants, organic gardening focuses on feeding the soil. Healthy soil is the key to healthy plants and abundant harvest without the use of chemical additives. Organic gardens can be any size depending on the space and time you have to work it. For those with limit space and time container gardens off a way to enjoy the health benefits of organically grown produce with minimal effort. Raised Beds are another way to control the soil in an organic garden and both container gardens and raised beds allow individuals with physical limitations access to the benefits organic gardening has to offer. Plant selection will also determine the type of containers needed but most plants are easily adaptable to both raised bed plantings and containers with or without a trellis or support type system.

  • Producing Garden Vegetables with Organic Soil Amendments –In this article, the University of Florida Extension office explains the benefits of using organic matter to amend the soil in home gardens. This article explains that organic matter includes animal manures, plant clippings (green manure), cover crops, and organic fertilizers. Addition information gives details concerning the use of compost and various organic fertilizers including how and when various soil amendments are best applied. Two useful tables list beneficial animal produced fertilizers and green manure (cover crops) including their approximate nitrogen levels.

  • Composting at Home (PDF) - This resource offers information to assist in starting your own home compost project. Discussion includes decisions on what type of container (if any) you may decide to use and guides the home gardener in understanding the use of both green and brown materials to use in producing quality organic compost. Green materials are general wet or fresh clippings that provide nitrogen and include food scraps. Brown materials are dry leaves, wood chips, newspapers, and provide a balance of carbon to your compost material

  • Building a Raised Bed for Organic Gardens (PDF) – Organic gardening begins with the understanding that the healthier the soil, the healthier the produce. While most organic gardens are done by amending soil over a period of years, a quicker way to control soil composition is to use raised beds. Other adaptations to container gardening can make it possible for older individuals and others with physical limitations to experience the joy of horticulture therapy while following organic gardening practices. This resource provides tips offers ways to enjoy gardening for a lifetime and includes instructions for building a raised bed.

  • Gardening Health and Safety Tips from the CDC – Within the helpful tips and information offer here on the Center for Disease Control, you will find tips allowing you to enjoy the most benefits involved in gardening. According to the CDC, two and a half hours per week of moderate activity such as gardening, can increase your energy and help to relive arthritis pain and stiffness. Thirty minutes of light gardening activities burns approximately one hundred and fifty calories (more for heavier gardening chores such a raking or shoveling. Check this site for more tips to garden safely.

  • Plant Choice helps Control Pests in an Organic Garden – There are several varieties of plants such as herbs and the purple coneflower that attracts beneficial insects to a garden. Beneficial insects can help control garden pests that they feed upon. Other plants repel pests because of their scent or chemical make-up. Also included in this article is information on the proper use on manure for a healthy soil. Healthy soil decreases the chance of attracting unwanted insects such as grubs and cutworms.

  • Integrated Pest Management for Home Gardens (PDF) – By choosing disease and pest resistant varieties in a home garden you may not need further pest control. An organic gardener should always consider the plants needs and practice garden hygiene such as removing rotting produce, rotating crops, and companion planting as a first line of defense against pests.

  • 9 Easy Steps to an Organic Garden – This slide-show presentation shares nine easy steps to get your organic garden off to a good start. Tips cover topics such as soil preparation, compost use, plant choices, planting recommendations, watering needs, weed control, pest control, harvesting, and cleanup. Links to other garden resource information can also be found on the Daily Green site.

  • Organic Container Gardening Tips – If you have limited space or physical limitations that prevent you from maintaining a traditional garden spot, container gardening is a great solution. Container gardening offers ideal advantages to controlling soil content and maintenance issue right at your fingertips. Container and soil selection as well as plant varieties are all discussed here.

If you have ever had the privilege of eating a true vine-ripened tomato still warm from the sun, you know a conventionally grown tomato from the store offers no comparison. There are continued debates and controversies surrounding the claim that organically grown produce smells and tastes better. Studies exploring nutritional advantages of organic foods also offer conflicting information. Yet, most consumers report organic foods do taste and smell better and recent studies are now beginning to support the increased number of antioxidants found in organically grown fruits and vegetables. Macro-nutrients and antioxidants have only recently begun to be seen as playing an important part in healthy aging. Antioxidants support healthy cell formation necessary throughout our lives.

  • Comparison Studies: Tastes Differences between Conventionally grown Produce VS Organically grown Produce – This report explains the difficulty of designing comparison studies regarding the taste, smell, and texture of conventional produce VS organic produce. Though there is a good argument that taste and smell are subjective, this report includes graphs reflecting the attitudes and beliefs of those who consume organic foods and those who do not as to the perceived differences. The conclusion confirms preliminary findings indicate those who consume organic produce can taste and smell a difference but further studies are needed.

  • Does Organic Food Taste Better? – This brief abstract stresses that rather than a sweeping claim that all organic food tastes better than conventional, individual taste tests should be done on different items before such a claim can be made. This is evidence for the need regarding more research on the tastes and nutritional contents of organic foods.

  • Nutritional Quality of Organically Grown Food – This article looks at the controversy surrounding the claim that organic foods are nutritionally superior. Because studies specifically designed to study nutritional values of organic foods are limited, there is a huge need for further research. The author of this article does point out advantages to environmental issues, reducing carbon footprints and the energy and resource saving that organic gardening provides.

  • Is Organic Better for You? – This site offers insights from several experts including scientists, nutritionists, scientists, and top food experts. Also includes a listing of minerals and nutrients known to be in greater percentages within organic foods rather than conventional.

  • Benefits of Organic Food – Organic food is less likely to be contaminated by residual chemicals, pesticides and pathogens. This article explains that recent research has shown long-term exposure to residual chemicals in conventional foods disrupt various immune system functions, as well as hormonal balance, and the nervous system.

  • Taste Test of Organic vs. Inorganic Foods – This is a video presentation of an actual taste test presentation comparing the taste of organic at a gathering of Saint Francis College students. Organic produce was deemed better tasting and all items were judged to look better with the exception of apples.

  • Are Organic Foods More Nutritious? (PPT) – This is a slide-show presentation concerning the nutritional value of produce grown organically. While it does a good job of identifying the macro-nutrients and antioxidant properties that are in greater supply in organically raised produce, there remains a need for continued research.

  • Organic Farming Nutritional Benefits – Are you confused by the term organic on food labels? This article opens with a clear definition and then offers a list of nutritional benefits offered by food grown organically. In addition to health benefits, organic farming is ecologically sustainable and contributes to a nature balance within the local ecosystem.

  • What are the Concerns of Organic Food Buyers? – This report contains several tables and graphs comparing the importance of various factors such as artificial colors, preservatives, or residues. Further charts examine psychological factors influencing consumers to buy organic foods. Naturally, most of these issues are address by a home gardener following organic practices however, this report show how consumer perceptions of organic foods is changing.

Even flowers benefit from organic gardening practices. Organic flowers have a better smell free from chemical overtones often found in conventionally grown plants. Some varieties of flowers such as roses or carnations often have little or no fragrance when grown using conventional methods, yet organic flowers have an abundance of fragrance and sweetness that cannot be duplicated. Organic flowers often exhibit truer color and texture than conventionally raised flowers.

  • Organic Flowers - This article offers compelling reason to buy organic flowers. Most flowers solid in the US are imported and grown with the use of toxic chemicals banned in the US.

  • Organic Flower Power – Discusses the advantages of organic flowers and follows the journey of organic flowers from gardens to marketplace. A video episode is accessible here produced by Growing a Greener World. The intense fragrance of organic flowers is also discussed in this video.

  • Organic Flower Gardening – This resource shares information and tips to plan plant and maintain an organic flower garden. As with all organic gardening, good soil preparation is essential for optimal plant growth and blooms. Regular maintenance tips and monitoring of water needs also are discussed. Of course, you want to enjoy your flowers both indoors and out. This article also shares tips for caring for cut flowers.

The long-term benefits of organic gardening influence personal health, environmental health and even community health as organic gardening restores a natural balance to the soil and environment. Long-term benefits of organic gardening have been noted among those who garden regularly. A recent study showed gardening increases hand strength and self-esteem among seniors. Additional long-term benefits include improved sleep, lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and increases personal satisfaction with life. Benefits of organic gardening also have long-term effects on the environment by reducing the use of toxic fertilizers, and pesticides.

  • Organic Foods and Benefits for Health and the Environment (PDF) -  Chemical residue on foods can pose health risks such as nausea, headaches, allergies, and lowered immunity. Organic foods significantly lower your risk of exposure to residual pesticides. One example, given in this report cites the ‘acceptable’ level of the pesticide DDT is four times greater in conventional milk than is found in organic milk products. Nutritionally, organic fruits and vegetables may contain up to forty-percent more antioxidants and higher levels of important trace minerals.

  • Organic Community Gardens Can Impact Health, Environment, and the Economy (PDF) – This report address the physical and mental benefits community gardens can have towards improving the health of individuals and the surrounding communities. While a section of this report also raise potential harmful effects and considerations. The benefits of community gardens far outweigh the bad.

  • Organic Foods Benefit Health and the Environment – Did you know conventional gardening practices is responsible for depleting carbon in the soil and contribute to climate changes? In contrast, organic gardening techniques can help store more than one thousand pounds of carbon per acre and maintain or restore environmental balance. Further information found here shows how you can take other steps to support a sustainable environment.

  • Four Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening – The benefits of spending time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air have long been understood to be a huge reward of gardening. This article highlights four additional health benefits you may not have considered as you plan your organic garden. Gardening lessens depression and increase satisfaction with life, lowers your risk of osteoporosis, and helps you sleep better at night. When you combine the regular physical activity involved with gardening with enjoying the fresh fruits, vegetables and other produce grown in a vegetable garden, you can also significantly lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. See this full article for more details.

  • Gardening Benefits Hand Strength and Self-Esteem among Older Adults – Lose of hand strength and flexibility is often experienced, as we grow older. Kansas State University researcher report that taking part in regular gardening activities helps maintain and improve hand strength and pinch force (the ability to pinch small objects to pick things like seeds up between two fingers). Researcher also noted older adults who reported gardening on a regular basis had better self-esteem than non-gardeners. Gardening tasks such as mixing potting soil, or transplanting seedlings offers exercise benefits to the upper body while heavier tasks such as raking involved a full body workout.

  • Antioxidants and Nutritional Quality in Organically Grown Foods (PDF) – This study acknowledges the ongoing controversy as to the increased nutritional value of organically produced food over foods grown using chemical and conventional methods. A wide variety of factors such as soil conditions, environment, and even geographic locations may all influence the nutritional value of foods. Included in this report is a table showing several studies that were done to determine the nutritional values of organic fruits and vegetables compared to conventional produce of the same varieties. While more study is needed, these reports support the claim made by those in the organic food arena that foods produces without chemicals does contain more nutritional value, especially the antioxidants known to fight the effects of aging.

  • Antioxidants are more plentiful in Organic Foods – This listing of nutrients found in foods shows how various nutrients offer health benefits and support the healthy regeneration of cells. The listing of antioxidants begins by claiming the antioxidant levels in foods have been declining in the past 25 years and offers organic foods as a possible solution.

Pesticide use throughout the US has far-reaching effects on the health of individuals and the environment. Chemicals used to control pests and weeds as well as the overwhelming amounts of chemical fertilizers applied to crops each year seeps into the soil and water supplies. Residual amounts of chemicals remain in produce even after harvesting and preparation and these residual toxins are known to increase our risks for numerous health issues. By not using chemical alternatives, organic gardening helps to restore a natural ecological balance that promotes nutritionally strong produce and a healthier environment now and in the future.

  • Pesticides and Potential Health Problems – This listing of various pesticides shows how they affect the nervous systems of various pests. It is the effect on the nervous system that raises the risk of health problems in humans due to long-term exposure of residual pesticides in and on the foods, we consume. Other fact sheets about health risks and safety issues with pesticide use can also be found here on the EPA site.

  • Public Health Risks Associated with Pesticide use - Three billion toxic chemicals are used in the US each year and of those, at least ten percent are known carcinogens that raise the risk of cancer and other health issues. Citing a 1992 World Health Organization report that three million pesticide poisonings and over 200 thousand deaths occur worldwide due to pesticide exposure this article clearly shows the dangers pesticide use presents. Further information for reducing exposure to residual pesticide can also be found within this article.

  • Potential Health Effects of Pesticides – This PDF resource produced from Penn State University list the health dangers of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Included within this resource are several tables listing the signs and symptoms of pesticide exposure. Chronic expose to low-levels of pesticides is more difficult to identify through lab analysis. Some suspected effects of chronic pesticide exposure include nervous system disorders, hormonal disruptions, endocrine disorders, and birth defects.