There are lots of reasons why I choose to garden organically. One of them is much more important than the others, and I will come to that last.
- It costs money - the people who rented that plot before us told me they sprayed £60 of weedkiller on it. And it's still full of weeds. I can only imagine it would be even worse if they hadn't but still, it cost Ed and I nothing to entirely clear a quarter of it by hand, and we'll do the other three quarters over the next weeks and months.
- Artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers are made from oil, and the oil is running out. We need to learn how to live without them. Organic gardening isn't a middle-class fad, it's the future.
- We eat the produce from our allotment. I don't want to put poisons anywhere near our food. Just seems like common sense to me.
- The ground needed digging anyway (in response to Hedgie's astute observation that digging makes couch grass worse - in fact we forked it, then removed all the roots, then forked again and removed more roots until either there were no more roots or we were fed up). So using weedkiller wouldn't have saved us a job, it would just have saved us the "removing roots" stage of the job.
- We could have used weedkiller and then hired a rotavator to clear and cultivate the soil. That would have been pretty easy and quick. But then again we could have bought all our veggies from Tesco in the first place, even easier and quicker. But it's not about what's easiest, it's about what's best, in our opinion.
- It's good exercise. Some people join gyms at great expense and spend an hour a day on treadmills and rowing machines to keep fit, and then they hire someone at great expense to mow their lawn and trim their hedge for them. Seems to me you could save some money on that arrangement and still keep fit. This isn't really a "reason" why I chose to dig, but it is one of several nice benefits.
- There's a promising new blog called Allotment Junkies which is about allotment gardening and depression recovery. Being out in the daylight, taking vigorous exercise, having short-term achievable goals and seeing the tangible results of your labours (not to mention eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables) are all proven to be more effective treatment and prevention for depression than anti-depressant drugs. I have experienced depression in the past and have no intention of going there again if I can help it. Digging the garden or allotment helps keep me happy and healthy. This is also a pleasant bonus rather than a reason for my choice.
- But the main reason why I choose not to use Roundup is that soil is alive. Or rather it is an ecosystem of lots of interdependent organisms - plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, both microscopic and macroscopic. Using herbicides and pesticides damages that ecosystem and in extreme cases can result in sterile i.e. dead soil. As a gardener, I am in the business firstly of creating healthy soil. Healthy plants follow on from that. I won't do anything that damages the health of my soil if I can possibly avoid it, which is the same thing as saying I garden organically.