Friday, January 16, 2009

Does "organic" infer "costly to buy?"

I've been busy this week. The kind of busy that I like; lots of writing about gardening and related stuff. Some of these writings can be less than a hundred words, which is more or less the word count you'll usually find in many of my blog posts.

If you would allow me the courtesy to direct your attention away from this blog for just a few minutes, I'd like to get your opinion about organic gardening, but first you need to read my post in another forum: Click here. Don't worry, it's not a long drawn out thing, but I will say it's longer than a hundred words. Read the comments from others to help you form your own opinion (and the title of my post).

The creators of The Organic Gardeners forum are friends of mine and I've known Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser for several years. Both have inspired me to become more attentive to the organic side of things in the garden. But I think more needs to be done to dispel the quandary that some associate with organic gardening/farming/living or organic anything. I'm considering buying Jeff Gillman's book, The Truth About Organic Gardening, but realize it would be only one of many tools I could use to help me glean a better understanding of what it means to be an organic gardener. Whether you realize it or not dear readers, you too are included in my tool chest.

My article for next week's newspaper column will touch on the above dilemma. And If I can get a few of your thoughts about it, I'd love to include them in what I say. Don't feel rushed, but I'd like to have your view on the matter as soon as possible, say, by Sunday?

And of course, if all you prefer to do is read my post, or not read it and just look at the pictures, that's fine too. Commenting is always optional.

Peace.

(Please do me a favor and in your comments, tell me if you like/dislike/are neutral about my music player, and whether or not you like the comment box as a pop-up window, full page, or embedded below the post. Thanks!)

Fully open

Severe weather warning loudspeakers?

Should this snow be removed from the shrubs?

22 comments:

tina said...

I am neutral on the music, now that I know to expect it. I prefer my comment box in the pop up so I can still read easily and not change pages. Just a personal preference.

As far as organic gardening, not sure what you are asking. I quickly scanned the comments and your take. I did note Roundup and the very heated debate on the use of synthetic fertilizers. What are you asking for? Our opinion on organic gardening? I think I agree with Doug's statement, something like this: Our mission is to garden sustainably, and responsibly.

Dave said...

I usually have my speakers off unless I'm trying to listen to something specifically so I would go either way on your music player. However you like it is good to me!

As for the Roundup issue I have no clue what damage it could do only that I'd rather not risk it. I'll pull my weeds, use hot water or vinegar as I need to. Usually I'll just pull the weeds. It's good for exercise, we all need it! I don't add fertilizers to the yard since we have two little kids and I really don't see any need to do it. A little sifted compost every now and then will help. I'm not very keen on the idea of salts being added into the soil from the artificial fertilizers.

TC said...

Ms. Tina: Thanks for your input. I'm asking for just what you provided. I didn't want to ask for anything specific, just kind of an open-ended type of question if you will.

I had the comment pop-up window for a while, but switched back to full page because I find it easier to reply to y'all this way. But I'm thinkin I'll change it if needed, based on what readers/commenters prefer.

TC said...

Dave: Thanks for commenting. Perhaps I should be a bit more specific and ask what the word "organic" means to y'all. I don't want to give away what I'm writing for the paper, but according to a Garden Writers survey, a lot of folks associate organic with "costly to buy."

Just from yours and Ms. Tina's replies, I get a feel that you both might practice what's known as IPM, or Integrated Pest Management, and that's okay. But if you both shy away from chemicals all together, that's even better.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

My speakers are always off. I'm an organic gardener, but I do use Roundup on poison ivy and buckthorn stumps. It doesn't stay in the ground very long (hours, not even days). I know a lot of naturalists and people working for parks and I believe what they tell me.) I don't tend to buy organic produce because of the cost, but I do grow a lot of tomatoes and a few herbs myself.

Darla said...

Okay, I do not have my volume on either, unless I am trying to hear something specific. I thinks is a distraction if you are seriously trying to learn something. I use round-up from time to time. Was under the impression since I too have planted within two weeks where I have sprayed that it does indeed either leave the ground or break down into something. I really am out of my area here. Do we pull weeds oh yeah, ask my kids!!

Roses and Lilacs said...

I don't hear any music. I know Tina uses Firefox so that isn't the reason your page is mute on my computer??? I like the pop up boxes too. I often go back and read the original post while commenting (if I can).

I'm an organic gardener. I think it's a little foolish to buy pricey organics products when so much natural organic material goes to landfills. I do use alfalfa meal on almost everything but it isn't very expensive and has a hormone unavailable in other organics. Roundup I avoid if I can. Sometimes I put it directly on locust I can't get rid of. I've never treated large areas with it and would be opposed to it.
Marnie

tina said...

Marnie, Where can I buy alfalfa meal? I want to use it on the grass but when I go to farm and feed they look at me cross eyed. Maybe the coop?

Dave said...

When I think organic food at the grocery store I think "expensive." When I think organic in the garden I think "saves me money." Organic growing in the garden is a cheaper way to do things in almost every case I can think of. On a larger scale it's more difficult which is probably why the prices are more expensive at the stores. You can make your own compost for free.

walk2write said...

I like the music, use whatever comment method turns your crank, and eliminate as many synthetic fertilizers/weed killers as possible. I'm intrigued by what someone said about clove oil. I use it for killing mold/bacteria/viruses but had no idea it would be useful for weeds. And yes, I think you should whack those shrubs with a broom (gently) or you will be faced with an ugly dilemma come spring. I like your severe weather warning flowers.

Skeeter said...

I garden the way I was taught in TN. Loosen soil, Drop seed, cover with dirt and water. I use very little fertilizer but do plant in fertilized soil from a bag...

Your blog to set, for what works for you :-)

TC said...

Ms. Monica: If you use Round Up, then technically, you're not organic. But if I found poison ivy or any other meanie weed growing close to my house, I'd almost go to extremes to remove it. And I have used Round Up to start a new garden spot. The label says to wait two weeks before planting, we waited longer. I've since quit using most all harmful chemicals.

Ms. Darla: My music player, and most I've seen on blogs, have a stop/pause button. I've visited blogs with players and have paused the music if the song playing isn't to my liking. As I said to Ms. Monica, you're not truly organic either, but don't feel bad. It's not something to be ashamed of. IPM is highly effective and safe, but it's not considered organic.

Ms. Marnie: It's odd that you don't hear the music. I have no clue why. Are you sure the player isn't paused? And again, the same goes for you as Ms. Darla and Ms. Monica; you couldn't be certified organic if you use Round Up, even if you only use it once in a while. I realize we're not going for certification or anything like that, but I do find it interesting that we say we're "organic" and yet still use nasties on occasion.

Dave: You're like most consumers, myself included. I know organic produce is more expensive, and so is grass fed beef, and other such items. And I also agree with you about it being cheaper to grow organic in the garden when you don't have to buy pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, etc. It is more expensive to be 100% organic, and costs almost an arm and a leg to get USDA certified.

W2W: I'm 100% positive I was completely organic with my growing and gardening last year. It was tough, we lost all our summer squash because of a cucumber beetle infestation, and the Japanese beetles did a number on my pole beans. And I'm still learning which varieties of veggies and flowers are more resistant to pests and diseases than others. Going 100% organic isn't for the lighthearted. And those snow-laden shrubs aren't in my yard. I stopped at a local eatery and they were at a house next door to that. I actually shoveled the snow off mine already.

Ms. Skeeter: That's about as simple and sweet a method of gardening as can be! And Felder Rushing summed it up in almost the same way when he said, "Just plant it green side up."

TC said...

And the voting on preferences:

Music - 2 neutral, 1 like, and 1 dislike

Comment box - 2 for pop-up window

Most everyone else said it didn't matter ("Whatever turns your crank," W2W said).

natural candles said...

With what you wrote about, I think I may want to try out The Organic Gardeners. I'd like to see what they have got to say. :)

Joe Lamp'l said...

I like the music but if I open your blog when I'm with other people in the room, I always get comments to turn it off. But it is unique about your blog. But, it's not going to matter either way for me. I'd say it would be safer to leave it off. That way, people can visit your blog at work without being detected!

On the post, studies overwhelmingly show that consumers think organics ARE costlier to buy. In fact, that is still often the case. But you have to look at the bigger picture here. Although they may cost more money, there is always a trade off. I'm happy to spend a little more if I know I'm being more eco-friendly in the process. Although I know not everyone can choose to pay a bit more, especially in these times, the longterm cost of continuing to use non-organic can damage the living soil to the point that is it necessary to continue to supply manmade nutrients. That adds up. I say, spend a little more now to "feed the soil" naturally" and you'll spend far less out of pocket in the future. You'll be saving more than money in the long run.

TC said...

Natural Candles: You'll find lots of good info on The Organic Gardeners Forum. Sign up and tell them "gnosticgardener" sent ya! ;~)

Joe: As always, it's great to have one of my sources, and one of my colleagues, come and give a more in depth explanation on a topic. That trade off you mentioned will always be a factor until the industry lowers their costs. Is that possible? I don't think so, at least not until the "Green Revolution" is complete.

walk2write said...

Apparently, the Green Revolution is moving too quickly for some people:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/16/AR2009011604477.html?wpisrc=newsletter

The 360-degree turn (revolution) brings us back to where we began. Now there are not only NIMBYs to contend with but NITSBYs (not in this senator's back yard).

My dad wanted to buy a small orchard years ago in S. Illinois when the price was right and he had a little money saved up. He wanted to make his dream come true: "Live off the fatta the land," or some such thing (remember Lenny and George?). A neighboring farmer soon smothered that dream by remarking to my dad that if he did not intend to regularly spray his trees in a manner prescribed by the local co-op, he would find himself left with nothing but a bunch of stumps. My dad had lived through too many conflicts (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) to relish another one and withdrew his offer on the land. He would have preferred to not spray the trees, having practiced organic gardening most of his life, but he understood the economic consequences to the neighboring farmers resulting from that preference. Yes, it's important to practice environmentally sound methods of insect and weed control, but as Weeping Sore has said, let's "make haste slowly." We shouldn't "throw the baby out with the bath water." I actually understand the NITSBY's position somewhat. Those wind farms are noisy, and they take a huge toll on bird populations.

Joe Lamp'l said...

The question you raise about will cost ever come down on organics prior to a "green revolution" is valid. I wonder about that too. Like most other things, I don't think economies of scale will come into play until we have more widespread acceptance of using "green" products as a first choice. Suppliers will find ways to offer them more cheaply. Unfortunately, this economy is going to keep many people from being able to take the plunge into the green pond for a while, thereby slowing down the movement towards economies of scale.
Thanks TC for great fodder. It's always a pleasure to chime in on such worthwhile questions and comments.

walk2write said...

"Fodder?" Are we sheep here? I do think TC has raised an important question, but it's certainly not fodder. Now how should we make organic products more acceptable on a widespread basis and find ways for suppliers to offer them more cheaply? Why subsidies of course! More tax dollars at work. Wherever the heck they're going to come from, I have not a clue. Do you? Maybe we'll just print some more money. More green, anyone? Sorry if I seem a tad skeptical. Terms like "green revolution," "economies of scale," and "green pond" tend to stick in my craw (ruminant animal that I have become) when I hear them so frequently and suspect there is nothing substantial on them. They are fun to say, though.

TC said...

Fodder: inferior or readily available material used to supply a heavy demand.

fodder. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fodder.

I'm sure Joe didn't aim to lessen the importance of my topic by referring to it as fodder. I may be a bit more optimistic my dear friend W2W, when it comes to a Green Revolution (sorry I used that term again in direct defiance to your ears, I do understand your skepticism though). I base my increased optimism on the new administration about to enter the White House. I also think there's a wave, or maybe the beginning of one, of change being created by the younger generation (and a lot of us in the "cotton top" crowd also) who appear to be embracing the possibility of hope for a better world.

I believe my children, and their children will look back on this significant time in our country's history and say, "Well, at least they finally did something about it!"

walk2write said...

Who doesn't hope for a better world for their children and grandchildren? I just don't have much faith in new administrations, no matter the party affiliation. I think I've lived long enough to be confident of an otherwise noble human's limits and weaknesses when in possession of great power. I will do my small part to change my immediate world, (make it safer, cleaner, "sustainable"--ugh, another popular word), and I'm confident that other people of like mind will do the same. That path to change (grassroots push), my dear friend TC, is the only one that won't become a stumbling block and a future financial burden to our heirs. Don't they have one already swamping their boat (bailout)? I have a feeling we are approaching the same page, fodder and fashionable words notwithstanding.

TC said...

W2W: It is my hope that you're not taking what I say as one huge cliche. You and I both have about the same number of years on this planet; but why let the restraints of an aged body limit our mind's ability to seek out hope?

It is also hoped that my lexicon not appear too "fashionable" that you would consider me arrogant or presumptuous.