Join me as I dive into organic gardening

by Laura Sileo-Lepkyj

I started my adventures in organic gardening almost by accident when I decided to enter my garden in the Amherst garden walk this spring.

organic gardening column
Euphorbia seguieriana

As I was filling out the application, I had a dilemma: what boxes should I check to describe the various features of my garden?

Sculptures? Nope.

Native Plants? Not so much.

Pond? Nada.

Arbors/Pergolas? Seriously?

I was getting worried. What did I have to offer that makes my garden unique? Then there appeared my opportunity:

Organics? Yes! Yes, I will garden organically from now on if it means I can have one precious box to check on my garden walk application!

So that’s how I joined the ranks of the organic gardeners.

Now that I’m in the organic mindset I admit there are a few other, more traditional reasons I found to shelve the herbicides, too. I’m in my reproductive years, and years from now I don’t want to worry about the consequences of spraying one miserable dandelion. If you have to wear gloves and shouldn’t inhale and need to wash for 15 minutes if the spray gets on your skin, why would I even consider using it? The idea of spraying a dandelion in the middle of my garden at the potential expense of my health or ability to have healthy children is not the easy decision it once was. It’s scary.

It seems that people want that instant gratification achieved with herbicides. Hey, I can appreciate instant gratification. Honestly, I love my high-speed Internet access, the Buy It Now feature on eBay, and the fact that the coffee shop down the street has a sign that tells its employees to strive to serve the customer their nonfat-caramel-latte-hold-the-whipped-cream within 45 seconds.

As long as we’re getting honest here, yes, my garden has weeds. However, it had just as many weeds when I was using artificial herbicides. I’d be willing to bet my Euphorbia seguieriana (my prized plant that took me three years to find) that you have weeds, too. If your garden is going to have weeds anyway, why not give up the herbicides and have a cleaner garden and cleaner environment? Makes sense, right?

Well, there you have it. I started organic gardening not out of a deep desire to be a steward of the planet, but so that I could check a box on an application. Hey, I could do a lot worse.

In my next installment of this column, I will discuss just what exactly is industrial strength acetic acid, and why I’m lugging around boiling water on a 90-degree day.

Laura’s garden will be on the Amherst Garden Walk July 17 (rain date July 18).

2 Comments on “Join me as I dive into organic gardening

  1. What have you found in terms of organic methods to diminish/eliminate the nasty Japanese beetles. They used to infest my roses and now they are eating White birch leaves and Christmas holly bush. jaime

  2. Jaime,
    I’m going to try the following recipe for my vegetable garden:

    1 cup water
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 mashed banana
    1 pkg dry yeast

    mix these together & put in a narrow-necked container (soda, milk, etc) near affected plants.

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