Agrichemicals Are Not Needed or Welcomed

>> Thursday, May 21, 2009

I read a commentary posted in Grist entitled “Agrichemical industry steps up pressure on White House organic garden”. The author compared the mafia’s infamous ‘protection scheme’ with an agrichemical company’s letter writing campaign to ‘entice’ Michelle Obama into using chemicals on the White House garden.

Okay, this is a bit of a stretch.

You can’t fault agrichemical companies for pushing their products because that’s what businesses do to stay alive. However, you can fault them for the tactics they use to sell those products: mis-information and the omission of relevant facts.

Despite the amount of data available warning of the toxic side effects of chemicals in the gardens, to humans, pets, soil and wildlife in general, far too many home gardeners are buying into the wrong-headed notion that chemical ‘protection’ is required to have a healthy and productive garden.

If gardeners would concern themselves with maintaining the health of the soil, which in turn promotes the health of the plant, there would be no need for chemicals. Pests don’t attack healthy plants.

In the gardening blogosphere we know the many benefits of using compost to feed the soil. There are tons of sites citing personal experience with its benefits, I am included in that number and urge everyone to participate and leave the chemicals on the store shelf.

Nature has a marvelous answer to harmful pests: beneficial insects. Using chemicals to rid the bad guys also kill off the beneficials.

Most chemical pesticides are petroleum based. Another good reason to avoid them.

Other ways to ensure a healthy garden is to allow for good air circulation. Overcrowding your plants allows them to stay wet longer which makes them more susceptible to fungus and other diseases.

Using natural repellants such as sprays made out of hot peppers, coyote or bobcat urine, rotten eggs, bonemeal, or bloodmeal (even castor oil) can make your garden unappetizing to herbivores. Reapply the repellents frequently, especially after rain.

What we need to do is write to Ms. Obama to congratulate her for her level-headed thinking by not using chemicals and remind her that farmers managed to feed this nation for decades without the ‘protection’ of agrichemicals.


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