Ed­u­ca­tion: grow­ing plants or­gan­i­cally

Farm­ing and gar­den­ing with­out chem­i­cals is good for the planet – here’s what it’s all about

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - This is a stream! Wa­ter pol­lu­tion due to runoff from farm­ing ac­tiv­ity has re­sulted in al­gae cov­er­ing the sur­face and up­set­ting the ecosys­tem.

RAIS­ING an­i­mals or grow­ing plants or­gan­i­cally means to do these ac­tiv­i­ties in an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way, us­ing nat­u­ral com­post rather than chem­i­cally en­hanced fer­tiliser, con­trol­ling pests with nat­u­ral meth­ods rather than with pes­ti­cides, and not giv­ing an­i­mals ar­ti­fi­cial prod­ucts such as hor­mones and an­tibi­otics.

Many peo­ple world­wide are con­cerned about the dan­gers – to them­selves and the en­vi­ron­ment – of nonor­ganic food pro­duc­tion, and this has re­sulted in a grow­ing de­mand for or­gan­i­cally pro­duced food.


Or­gan­i­cally pro­duced meat, eggs, veg­eta­bles and fruit in su­per­mar­kets cost more than nonor­ganic pro­duce.

Large-scale or­ganic farm­ing pro­duces 20% smaller har­vests than tra­di­tional farm­ing meth­ods. This is be­cause or­ganic farm­ers don’t use chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers, pes­ti­cides or weed­killers. They also don’t use growth hor­mones and ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied plants.

But be­cause of this, or­ganic farm­ing is a lot more work, which means farm­ers have to hire more peo­ple to help. So or­ganic food is more ex­pen­sive be­cause of the smaller crops and higher labour costs in­volved.


Or­ganic farm­ers work with na­ture to pro­duce food. Nonor­ganic farms use­fer­tiliser and other chem­i­cals that pol­lute the en­vi­ron­ment as ni­tro­gen and phos­pho­rus from cul­ti­vated fields are washed into rivers and streams by rain­wa­ter. Al­gae and other or­gan­isms grow faster in this pol­luted wa­ter and can starve the wa­ter of oxy­gen, caus­ing fish and other an­i­mals to die.

Or­ganic farm­ers on the other hand use nat­u­ral com­post. This or­ganic ma­te­rial binds the soil and pre­vents ero­sion (when soil is dis­placed by wind and wa­ter).


We’ve looked at large-scale or­ganic farm­ing, but you can also use or­ganic meth­ods in your gar­den. One of the most im­por­tant things you can do is to en­rich your soil. Or­ganic gar­den­ers be­lieve chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers kill off the ben­e­fi­cial or­gan­isms in the soil such as earth­worms, even­tu­ally mak­ing the soil ster­ile (which means it’s im­pos­si­ble to grow any­thing in it). Cow dung, bone meal and sea­weed are ex­am­ples of or­ganic fer­tiliser. Or­ganic mat­ter such eggshells and plant mat­ter, in­clud­ing fruit and veg­etable peels, can be com­posted in a com­post heap (see box). Work­ing this com­post into the soil feeds it. Per­haps you could start your own herb or veg­gie gar­den as a hobby – it’s re­ward­ing to see the re­sults of your ef­forts at har­vest time. If you don’t have ac­cess to a yard, you could plant herbs such as mint and gar­lic or veg­gies such as toma­toes in pots. It’s sat­is­fy­ing to be able to en­joy food you pro­duced your­self as part of your meals.

RIGHT: If you make a jack-o’-lan­tern for Hal­loween, re­mem­ber you can eat the pump­kin you scoop out and work the pips and peel into your com­post heap.

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