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Gardening & Environment News

Washing Clothes the Green Way? Independent Consumer Feedback
Saturday, July 7, 2021

Last year Matthew Sidford looked closely at washing balls that claim to make laundry detergents unnecessary. We've republished the piece to coincide with the arrival of ecoballs in our webstore. He draws on first hand experience and examines the environmental impacts and cleaning efficacy. He also r.. .. read more..

Restoring the American Chestnut
Monday, October 18, 2021

Once an estimated 4 billion trees strong, the American chestnut was almost wiped out by chestnut blight. Efforts are underway to help partially restore the species. .. read more..

Within One Cubic Foot
Friday, March 19, 2022

...or 0.0283168466 cubic meters. .. read more..

Lose Biodiversity, Increase Diseases?
Thursday, March 11, 2022

For the first time ever, scientists have linked a rise in infectious diseases with biodiversity loss and extinction. .. read more..

Assisted Migration - the Answer to Climate Change?
Monday, November 23, 2021

Chicago Botanic Garden researchers investigate methods to help plant species cope with a rapidly changing environment. .. read more..

Wild Banana Plant Marks Milestone for International Seed Bank
Thursday, October 29, 2021

10% of world's plant species now collected in seed bank. .. read more..

Urban Plant Extinctions Pose Threat to Global Biodiversity
Wednesday, October 14, 2021

How important is it to preserve native vegetation in urban areas? .. read more..

Climate Change and Gardening
Tuesday, May 8, 2021

“Feeling Warmth, Subtropical Plants Move North” - New York Times .. read more..

Looking for something else?

Why grow Organic?

Want to start gardening organically and grow your own organic food, but don't know where to start? This site is for anybody who wants to grow their own food: organic vegetables, organic fruit and, last but not least, organic herbs. You can save money, pick dinner from your own garden, and get the most delicious fruit and veg you've ever tasted - your very own 'work of art'.

OK, but why Organic?

The joy of walking out onto your own patch and picking leaves, fruit and roots to be eaten straight away is even greater when you don't have to wash the chemicals off first. For the other Top 10 reasons given in a straw poll conducted in November 2004, click here.

You may feel that growing your own produce is difficult enough, without adding to the problems by using organic gardening techniques. Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice, as they say, but for me, there are several reasons for going the whole hog:

But the real Top of the Heap, First Class, Number One reason, as far as I'm concerned is:

Eat more fruit and veg for health

The British Government is always telling us to eat more healthily. They say everybody should consume a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

But how many chemicals are there in that much conventionally farmed produce?

Organic fruit and veg may be hard to find at a decent price. And if you do find a lower cost supplier, often the organic produce that is on offer is not very attractive. It may be better for you — but sometimes it looks horrible, not at all appetising.

So what's the solution?

A shock, and a realisation

Around about 1992, I had two young children, aged 2 and 4 years. I was trying to give them a healthy diet, and they loved carrots. Every day they would grab at least one carrot each from the vegetable rack, sometimes more. I was pleased. "They're getting good fibre, vitamins, stuff for their eyesight, and the chewing is good for their teeth," I thought.


I was watching the news one day, when a very strange item came on (like something out of a science fiction story, I thought at the time). The Government was issuing a Health Warning on... carrots!!! Apparently, because of a rise in some pest or other (I know now it was carrot fly), farmers had been using huge amounts of pesticide chemicals, so much so, that the carrots produced contained dangerous amounts. The advice was to peel them before use.

To say I was surprised by this announcement would be an understatement — stunned more like, not to say angry. My kids were being subjected to high levels of chemicals, not just from carrots, but presumably from all sorts of other supposedly 'healthy' food. And there was no way to tell: you certainly couldn't distinguish a carrot full of pesticides from one that wasn't, just by looking at it.

I also realised something else: carrots are a root vegetable. And if a root is surrounded by something, it takes it in and absorbs it, like a sponge. So peeling a carrot wasn't going to do much good, if the problem was an excessive level of chemicals.

I was living in an area with no organic retail outlets. The only supermarket was KwikSave. I had no transport. The only solution was to grow my own. So that is what I did — with no previous experience of gardening (apart from my cactus collection, if you count that). If you've got a good enough reason, you can do anything - even start organic gardening from scratch.

I went to work to build a garden. With no prior experience, and a yard covered in very old broken concrete (definitely a blessing in disguise), infested with blackberries (if you've never tried to eradicate them, you won't realize what a menace they are in the wrong place), and nothing but an old wheelbarrow and a bucket for transporting rubble - and I couldn't lift the wheelbarrow when it was full!

So, if you have any experience of gardening, or none, I can show you how to get started. Exactly what to do, in English, not garden jargon (you will get to know what the terms mean, but to start with they are too confusing).

Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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