Over the past couple of weeks, the weather has finally turned from the dull whites and grays of winter into the lush greens, pinks, and blues of spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the trees are full of new green leaves. We find ourselves naturally spending more time outdoors, whether we are just walking to work instead of driving, or extending the normally five minute walk with the dog into a thirty minute outing. Maybe that’s why Earth Day falls right towards the end of April – because we are relishing every moment of enjoyment we have and are in the best state to appreciate the beauty and sanctity of our planet.
Earth Day is a great time to start your own organic backyard garden. Or, if you already have a garden and it isn’t organic, Earth Day is a great time to transition into making it organic. Organic agriculture requires keeping synthetic chemicals out of your garden, as well as any other chemicals often found in fertilizers, pesticides, and other gardening aids. Instead, organic gardeners use natural materials like compost and manure.
Organic gardening has countless benefits. In honor of Earth Day, we will start with the environmental benefits. There is a reason organic gardeners stay away from toxic substances like the fertilizers and pesticides mentioned above. These things are dangerous to the environment, especially your local environment. These chemicals can leak into your water supply, poisoning you, your family, and your neighbors. Look at the label of a conventional fertilizer and ask yourself if that is what you want putting into your water supply.
Organic gardening is also good for the animals in your vicinity, both domestic and wild. If you have pets, you do not want them ingesting any of the chemicals listed above. You also don’t want them stepping in it and tracking it into your home. Same goes for wildlife – you might not want those deer eating your vegetables and plants, but you probably don’t want to hurt them either. There are a number of ways to control pests without actually hurting them. For example, small machines can emit high frequency noises that bother birds without hurting them, but keep them out of your garden.
Another boon for organic gardeners? They end up with a garden full of organic vegetables. A number of studies have shown that organic food is healthier and higher in nutrients than their conventional counterparts. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence tells a similar story: a lot of people believe that organic food tastes better. Many chefs will only cook with organic foods for just that reason. Organic food is almost always more expensive at the supermarket, so think about the difference in the financial value of having an organic garden too!
Many gardeners are familiar with the therapeutic value of gardening. It is relaxing and involves exercise at the same time. You can do it as a child, an adult, and even into old age. Many people exhort the value of “horticultural therapy” because it keeps people in both good physical health and top emotional health. It can reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes and stroke. The joy of watching a seedling grow into a vegetable is one enjoyed by everyone.
A lot of organic gardeners find that they also save money by going organic. While organic might mean more expensive at the grocery store, the same does not hold true in the garden. Just think about it: when you make your own compost out of your table and cooking scraps, you don’t have to spend any money beyond your initial investments. Chemical fertilizer, on the other hand, needs to be bought at the store every time you run out.
Organic gardening, because it is done outdoors, because it is appropriate for people of all ages, and because it is fun, is also a great way to spend more time with your family. A family garden is the perfect place to spend time talking. While your hands are busy planting seeds and pulling weeds, you and your gardening companion can talk and bond for hours. On the other end, when the vegetables are grown and ready for harvest, you can spend time together picking the tomatoes or the cucumbers you have planted. Then you can take them right into the kitchen and make a chopped salad to enjoy together with a glass of wine! What better way is there to spend a Sunday afternoon?
About the writer: Abigail Turner writes about organic gardening, garden design and landscaping design topics for Architectural Gardens.
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