I am preparing for a “new” lecture:Organic Gardening 101. And although I can’t believe it, I have not given this particular talk since 2007.
Organic gardening is a large part of every lecture I give, of course. I can’t talk about gardening for pollinators or for wildlife or even about how to grow vegetables or flowers without getting asked about pesticide use or how to deter a particular type of critter.
Many times, I am a bit flummoxed. There’s only one insect that visits my yard with any regularity. I know when it’s coming (sometime in May, depending on temperatures), what plant it will visit (my mugo pine) and that I just need a few squirts of insecticidal soap at dusk to get rid of it.
But I can often tell folks how to organically rid themselves of other things. Sometimes I ask them if those other things are worth the trouble? For example, for me, I just don’t grow lilies, as lovely as they are. Between battling deer and the lily leaf beetle, I am not going to do that. There are too many other choices that don’t require all the effort.
So in pulling out my 12 year old lecture copy, I knew that I would have to revise some things. What I was not prepared for was all of the organic companies that have simply fallen off the face of the earth. I must have had 12 references on there. I am down to 4. That’s a little sad. People are more interested in things organic and healthy living–I thought.
With certain things, I know it was an issue of not wanting to fight the issue of government licensing. Several of my favorite weed killers and pesticides made with essential oils (and even some deer repellents) have all left the market. Most of them were excellent.
I have found another product that I love–and again, it is not registered for sale in Connecticut. It was sent to me as a test product. This sort of thing is so disappointing because how can I recommend a product that I can’t even buy?
And while there are more lawn care companies than ever offering organic lawn care, the two companies that had been selling the equivalent of an organic “4-step” program no longer even exist. The do it yourself homeowner has no option except to try to cobble together organic lawn care on his or her own without guidance. That is NOT a good option. It surprises me.
So I have to say I am a bit discouraged by what I am finding for the organic homeowner. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 12 years for that to change!!!!
These are frustrating topics. I know what works in my garden, but it is not often what my readers or audience wants to hear. So many do not want to use chemicals that are not classified as ‘organic’, but they want to use ‘something’. They are shocked when I suggest using ‘nothing’. With proper horticulture, very little is necessary. For example, my peach tree has been getting peach leaf curl since 1985, but I do nothing about it. Instead, I prune it aggressively, and it grows faster than the disease. Many problems with peach leaf curl, as well as rust on roses, etc, can be managed by simple pruning.
What’s also very frustrating is that until the latest batch of lawsuits against glysophate, if you had asked 10 “traditional ” retailers if it was safe, they would have said yes (they might still, although I know some have stopped selling it).
But organic gardening is still so “subjective. ” For example, the one that always gets people is milorganite–a product sold as an organic product and marketed for organic gardening.
Our statewide organic farming group has come out and said that nothing made from human waste (milorganite uses treated human sewage) is acceptable for organic gardening. I can certainly understand that and in fact have never gone near the stuff, despite the fact that they claim that it’s a wonderful deer repellent.
But if you get over the “ick” factor, is it really different from composted manure?
I love your story about the peach tree. We have a crab apple that periodically gets cedar apple rust. We do the same thing–judicious pruning cures a lot of ills.