Organic container gardening is something I could go on about, but you’re probably here because you want the 5-minute version.
“Organic” just means something that is alive, or once was. Or is made entirely of products of once-living things. “All-natural” is another term you’ll see on labels for organic products.
Food that is grown organically wasn’t sprayed with chemical pesticides (insect and bug killers) or herbicides (weed killer). While these chemicals are highly efficient, they also have been proven to be harmful to the environment.
There are clear health benefits to not eating these chemicals (or allowing it to get to our water supply), but there is also a higher cost to produce organic food plants and organically-raised beef, chickens, etc..
Food certified organic means the growers used only organic products, or something that occurs in nature (a bacteria, for example) to control or eliminate the same problems.
Recently, I did some spot pricing and found that organic gardening supplies (pots, soil, fertilizer) and plants cost in the area of twice as much as the non-organic standards. While the price will come down as demand grows, organics are likely to remain a higher-cost choice, at least in the near future.
Will organic growing practices make a difference, in helping to protect the environment and save endangered species, such as the many threatened types of bees (critical for plant pollination, and therefore our food supply)? We may never know, but our children and grandchildren likely will.
Options if you choose organic container gardening are:
- At garden centers and at some big box garden departments you will see organically-grown vegetable plants. So far, the most widely available are tomatoes and various herbs. They may also come in organic pots, rather than plastic pots.
- Organic pots are made of cocoa fibre (they come in a variety of sizes and look like they’re made of study brown cardboard) are bio-degradable, meaning you could put the entire plant in this pot into your (larger) container. This is a good option to prevent a plant from spreading and taking over all the space. These pots are also re-usable and can be re-cycled. They also work well as an inner pot (inside a more decorative one). The drawback is that they aren’t study (used alone) and aren’t all that strong.
- Organic container garden soil contains compost, peat moss, humus and sand, and is suitable for outdoor containers, but not for houseplants or plants that spend the warm season outdoors but come in for the cooler weather.
- Organic fertilizer, or plant food, comes either dry or a liquid concentrate. Both are mixed with water (directions are on the package or bottle). They’re effective, and you will get a good healthy crop of veggies, but should only be used for outside containers.
- Totally organic garden centers are something new in this decade that are likely to increase. They’re still fairly rare (there is only one in the city where I live) but this is an industry that is hyper-sensitive to customers. If enough gardeners insist on organic – and are willing to pay more for it – there will be wider choice, more options, more all-organic growers and garden centers and, ultimately, what everyone wants, a healthier world.