For our October 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we asked our entrants to tell us if they gardened organically and why or why not those made that choice. Here is what some of our entries told us about their home gardening habits.
"I garden organically in my tiny vegetable garden," said Caroline Parr of Fredericksburg, VA."And mostly organically otherwise except for occasional sprays of Round up on recalcitrant weeds. I garden this way due to my parents, who composted everything and gardened happily together for many decades"
"I garden organically because the thought of man-made chemicals poured into my garden confounds me," commented Crystal Nguyen of Westminster, CA. "My garden aspires to be an unsullied haven and sweet blessing to all the bustling creatures who frequent it where, season after season, green happily bursts from the rare virgin ground heinously flanked by concrete and asphalt. It is important to me to give other life forms the opportunity of a more natural existence - of which we are often deprived."
"Our gardening is mostly house plants," explained Ron Horner of Kenosha, WI. "We have had a backyard garden with some fruits and veggies. Need to get back in to that."
Tom Mann of Clayton, NC said: "We organically garden for several reasons. While we're not yet certified, our gardens cater to wildlife. We love our birds and tolerate the occasional deer and rabbits that seem drawn to our yard and gardens, along with squirrels, turtles, and yes, even snakes.. We have a small (8'x10') goldfish pond so we've got to watch out for them as well. Most importantly, our children and their cousins, grandchildren and great nieces/nephew who live close by and are frequent visitors to our little slice of paradise. We want our yard safe for everyone, and everything, and in order to do that, we strive to work the yard as organically as possible, and that includes using Annie's Authentic Haven Brand manure teas for our veggies and flowers."
"I do not garden organically but, I’d really like to learn and remove all traces of chemicals from my garden," said Lara Ruiz of La Quinta, CA. "I have experimented a little and find my plants respond better without the harsh chemicals but I did have more aphid issues. I’m an amateur and open to learning how to garden organically for the health of me, my family and my garden."
Dale McCarthy of Carl's Watkins Pond Community Garden said: "I'm president of a community garden in the very densely populated community of King Farm in Rockville. The first plot in our organic garden is for children to learn to grow their own organic vegetables and edible flowers. They learn and practice composting, and we've even tried vermiculture - admittedly with limited success - and we would love to have some organic manure for next year's garden. We are about ready to plant our organic garlic the end of this month, and I would be really pleased to let the kids know (ages 5-11) that we have access to this important element to enrich their plots next season."
"I try to garden organically--especially for plants that I'll be eating!" explained Kenneth Moore of Washington DC. "Because I grow almost everything in pots, I try to use organic potting soil (trying to grow any edibles in a DC yard's soil is terrifying to me!). I'd love some of the MooPoo to give a little pep to my outdoor plants in the spring!"
"Yes! I am an organic gardener, taking full advantage of the mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria, compost, and mulch in the living soil! " said Geri Laufer of Atlanta, GA.
"I do garden organically as much as possible," said Paige Puckett of Raleigh, NC . "The only exception I make is when fire ants enter the garden. I have a toddler and a preschooler, and I can't risk their sweet little bare feet to ant stings. I've used a variety of fertilizers, but over the years I've moved towards natural sources, compost, and manures. I like being able to munch on arugula while I tend to the garden and not have to worry about chemicals being on the leaves. I'd love to try Moo Poo Tea, as I see people talking about it on their garden blogs and Twitter all the time. Thanks!"
Jeavonna L. Chapman of Baltimore, MD said: "I grow organically because it is cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly. Did I mention cheaper. I've know about the benefits of manure tea for years, but whipping up a batch was always a pain. This version is so easy. Just drop the packet in a bucket of water and wait three days. I mix it half-an-half. Very satisfied with the results. This was a terrible garden year - weeks of 95+ humid rain-free days, Two crazy hurricanes, Irene and Lee. I didn't expect much. I started to pull everything up after Lee, but Annie said keep feeding 'em. They'll be fine. I've got figs, cherry tomatoes and magnolia blossoms in late October. My plants are doing great. Thank you, Annnie and Haven Brand Manure Tea. I like quick, easy and effective. "
"I will not say I have an organic garden since I do not always use organic seeds nor organic dirt," explained Faith Hood of Falls Church, VA. "I do my best to keep it as organic as possible. I also try to draw the proper insects. Though, I guess my garden was so good, that it drew more plant-eating insects such as grasshoppers."
The winner of our October 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest is: Paige Puckett, who was chosen at random from all the submitted entrires. She receives a Sampler Pack of Manure Tea, which includes one each Cow, Horse, and Alfalfa manure tea bags from Authentic Haven Brand (a $13 value). Authentic Haven Brand (http://www.manuretea.com/) offers a full line of all-natural, premium soil conditioner teas for the home gardener, landscaper, and farmer. Haven Brand uses only the highest quality manures from livestock that are raised on permanent, native grass pastures at the Haven Family Ranch.
So do YOU garden organically? Why or why not?