Bees and Organic Growing
The top five pests targeted by neonicotinoids (and how to control them in a bee friendly way)
Neonicotinoids can be found in various garden products aimed at controlling 5 pests of the garden: aphid, whitefly, vine weevil, thrips and butterflies. But, as we know, neonicotinoids and the products that contain them, are killing the bees. So, to find out how to keep your garden pests at bay whilst staying on the good side of our furry flying friends, here are our top five tips:
Don’t panic! Chances are, if you have a low level of pests in your garden it’s keeping the predators happy by providing them with a meal or two. Pests are essential to your garden in order to maintain the balance of keeping other animals alive – without them, those animals might not survive. Of course, there is a difference between seeing one cabbage white butterfly and losing your entire crop of kale. Each pest and crop will present you with a different situation and there may be a point where you need to take action to save your plants.
Swap the harmful chemicals for bee friendly biological replacements such as nematodes for vine weevil or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) for cabbage whites. Biological replacements should be an effective way to keep these specific pests at bay.
If you feel that biological replacements aren’t doing the job, chemical options such as soft soap can be used. Unlike biological controls these are not targeted at a particular pest – but they can be good at quickly reducing an infestation. You can then go in with the biological replacement afterwards to keep the numbers down for the rest of the season.
Cultural changes such as netting and hoovering (using little hoovers that you might use to clean your car) could be the answer. These options are good because they have no impact on the plant at all, other than to reducing the number of pests nibbling away.
For the more hardcore gardeners out there, consider alternative systems that build a diverse and balanced ecosystem where pests are under control. Getting a wide range of habitats into your garden is the best way to encourage a wide range of predators. This also includes having access to fresh water and shelter. Some areas of permanent planting – whether trees or perennial plants, will help to contribute to your garden habitat. And last, but by no means least, don’t forget to plant some bee-friendly flowers to keep the pollinators happy!
Love the Bees? Help Keep Britain Buzzing
Top 10 Reasons To Grow Your Own Organic Food
1. GET THE NUTRITION YOU NEED & ENJOY TASTIER FOOD!
Many studies have shown that organically grown food has more minerals and nutrients that we need than food grown with synthetic pesticides. There’s a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes—they taste better. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately our bodies.
2. SAVE MONEY
Growing your own food can help cut the cost of the grocery bill. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars and month at the grocery store on foods that don’t really nourish you, spend time in the garden, outside, exercising, learning to grow your own food.
3. PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS
The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. Food choices you make now will impact your child’s future health.
“We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers,
we are borrowing it from our children.”
– Lester Brown
4. PREVENT SOIL EROSION
The Soil Conservation Service estimates more than 3 billion tons of topsoil are eroded from the United States’ croplands each year. That means soil erodes seven times faster than it’s built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. However, in conventional farming, the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history.
5. PROTECT WATER QUALITY
Water makes up two-thirds of our body mass and covers three-fourths of the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates pesticides – some cancer causing – contaminate the groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country’s population.
6. SAVE ENERGY
American farms have changed drastically in the last three generations, from family-based small businesses dependent on human energy to large-scale factory farms. Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 12 percent of the country’s totally energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the United States. If you are growing your own food in the city, you are cutting down on transportation and pollution costs.
7. KEEP CHEMICALS OFF YOUR PLATE
Many pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered long before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases had been established. Now the EPA considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all insecticides carcinogenic. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 4 million cancer cases among Americans. If you are growing your own food, you have control over what does, or doesn’t, go into it. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and can also harm humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutations.
8. PROTECT FARM WORKERS & HELP SMALL FARMERS
A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had six times more risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workers have risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973 and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Field workers suffer the highest rates of occupational illness in the state. Farm worker health is also a serious problem in developing nations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated. An estimated 1 million people are poisoned annually by pesticides.
Although more and more large-scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small, independently owned family farms of fewer than 100 acres. It’s estimated the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that half of this country’s farm production will come from 1 percent of farms by the year 2000, organic farming could be one of the few survival tactics left for family farms.
9. PROMOTE BIODIVERSITY
Mono-cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts. Single crops are also much more susceptible to pests, making farmers more reliant on pesticides. Despite a tenfold increase in the use of pesticides between 1947 and 1974, crop losses due to insects have doubled—partly because some insects have become genetically resistant to certain pesticides.
10. HELP BEAUTIFY YOUR COMMUNITY
Besides being used to grow food, community gardens are also a great way to beautify a community, and to bring pride in ownership.
Source PDF (Printable Version): http://longbeachorganic.org/
Study Suggests Lethality of Roundup ‘Weedkiller’ Extends Beyond Plants To Humans
By Sayer Ji
A shocking new study finds that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, “…may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” capable of contributing to a wide range of fatal human diseases.
A new report published in the journal Entropy links the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide known as glyphosate with a wide range of fatal diseases.
Glyphosate is the world’s most popular herbicide and is designed to kill all but genetically modified “Roundup Ready” plants, such as GM corn, soy, beet, cottonseed and canola. Over 180 million pounds of the chemical are now applied to US soils each year,[ii] and while agrichemical manufacturers and government regulators have considered it ‘relatively safe,’ an expanding body of biomedical research indicates that it may cause over 30 distinct adverse health effects in exposed populations at far lower concentrations than used in agricultural applications.
The new report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc., brings to the forefront concerns voiced by an outspoken minority that Roundup and related glyphosate herbicide formulations are contributing to diseases as far-ranging as inflammatory bowel disease, anorexia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and infertility. In fact, the authors propose that glyphosate, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, “…may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.“
CYP enzymes are essential for detoxifying xenobiotic chemicals from the body. Glyphosate therefore enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. The researchers also showed how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria (e.g. tryptophan), as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport, a critical biological system for cellular detoxification (e.g. transulfuration pathway which detoxifies metals).
These effect, according to the researchers, can contribute to causing or worsening “…most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”
This new report may help to explain why over 30 adverse health effects associated with Roundup herbicide exposure have been identified in the peer-reviewed and published literature so far. The full report in PDF form can be obtained here. Please help us spread this information, as well as our Roundup Toxicity Research and GMO Research pages, by sharing them with other concerned individuals and groups.
Benefits of Organic Gardening
What are the benefits of organic gardening? Consider your garden. Imagine yourself stepping into your garden on a warm summer morning. The birds are singing; insects are buzzing. The sun is warm on your back. The flowers are blooming and fragrant. The moist earth has that wonderful musky, dewy smell.
You feel at peace with the world.
If you have a garden, you understand what it means to experience that sense of calm and serenity. If you do not yet garden, you too can feel the well-being and restfulness of gardening. These are just a few of the many benefits of organic gardening.
A non-organic garden can be a lovely place in itself, with many advantages. But the benefits of organic gardening are far greater, affecting you directly and extending to the greater world in which you interact. The many small acts of benevolence that comprise the benefits of organic gardening, add up quickly and in the end create a better, green, and more environmentally sound world.
DIRECT BENEFITS OF ORGANIC GARDENING FOR YOU
– Eating Healthy Food
– Saving Money
– Being Outdoors
– Getting Exercise
– Reducing Chemical Exposure
– Building Knowledge
– Rejuvenating the Spirit
Eating Healthy Food
The ability to grow and eat the healthiest food possible is one the chief benefits of organic gardening. No supermarket vegetable can compare in the taste, nutrition, or cleanliness of a garden grown vegetable. As soon as any fruit or vegetable is plucked from its parent plant, its quality slowly begins to degrade. Eating from your garden soon after harvesting ensures the highest quality vegetables.
Taste: Vegetables grown in your garden will taste better than any purchased in the grocery store for the simple reason that you eat your garden produce soon after you pick them. Organic vegetables will taste better still since they have no chemicals applied to them to enhance their growth. To develop true flavor, a fruit or vegetable needs two things: the proper elements and time. The elements of flavor are built slowly from the genetic material of the plants, from the soil, and water. Typical farming practices pay little attention to building the soil and maintaining all the nutrients and trace elements needed for enhanced flavor. For example, if onions are grown in a soil deficient in sulfur the distinctive oniony flavor will not develop and the resulting onions will have a weak watery taste.
It also takes time for flavor to develop. This is why many early-ripening varieties lack the powerful taste of later maturing varieties. This is particularly evident in comparing first-early tomatoes to the late season beefsteak varieties. By the same token, in conventional farming time is money so fast-growing crops are preferred for the supermarket trade. The result is bland tasting produce in the stores.
Nutrition: For the same reasons that organically grown vegetables have more taste, they have better nutrition. Part of the answer lies in the organic approach to building soil. Typical farming practice uses fertilizers primarily composed of the macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (aka: N-P-K) and rarely add any of the necessary secondary, tertiary or trace soil elements. Once the minerals endemic in his soil is consumed (which takes only a few months or years) the food grown is correspondingly low or devoid of these nutrients. Also, conventional farming chemicals kill most soil dwelling bacteria, many of which enhance the plant’s ability to synthesize or absorb nutrients.
In addition, some of the chemicals used on vegetable plants actually reduce the amount of nutrients available in plants after application. The nutrients most often affected are vitamin C, beta carotene, and the B vitamins, vitally necessary for the body to withstand the onslaught of chemical toxins. Vitamin C has been well documented by two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling to prevent and treat cancers. Beta carotene has been shown to be a stimulant of the immune system, and is sometimes able to prevent lung cancer.1
Pesticide Residue: One of the main individual benefits of organic gardening is that there are no pesticide residues on your food. Each year, American farmers apply more than billion pounds of pesticides to food crops.2 The majority of it is washed off by rain and irrigation into the soil and often finds its way into groundwater (and your drinking water). However, a significant portion of it remains on food crops and ultimately comes to your table.
Surely better-tasting, more-nutritious, fresh vegetables has to be the best of all the many benefits of organic gardening!
At the Grocery Store: One of the most obvious benefits of organic gardening is the amount of money you can save. The economy of growing your own food is undeniable, and the additional advantages described on this pages make it doubly so. For the price of a seed packet, a little fertilizer, and water you can save an impressive amount in comparison to buying all your vegetables at the store. For every vegetable you grow, that’s one you don’t have to buy.
Fresh Air: The average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors. One of the most underrated benefits of organic gardening is that it gets you outdoors. Simply getting outdoors on a regular basis will do more for your mental and physical health than you guess. Indoor air quality is far worse than you think it is. Heating, ventilating, and cooling systems are often poorly designed and minimally maintained. Outdoor air, even city air, is generally cleaner and healthier to breathe than recirculated lightly-filtered indoor air. The atmosphere in the garden has the added advantage of being cleaned and oxygenated by living plants.
Strengthened Immunity: Who would’ve thought that dirt under your fingernails has a beneficial health effect? Exposure to garden soil, with its many benign and nasty micro-organisms, is just the ticket for a healthy immune system. This is one of the healthy benefits of organic gardening that goes almost unnoticed.
Getting decent exercise is one of the best benefits of organic gardening. Organic gardeners are more generally more concerned with the environment than traditional gardeners and are more likely to use hand tools than power tools. As a result, they tend to burn more calories working in the garden. Each garden task burns around 200 to 400 calories per hour (more for heavier gardening tasks). It may not seem like much of a difference, but it adds up over time. Over a six month growing season, a gardener can easily burn up over 35,000 calories (enough to lose 10 pounds).
Reducing Chemical Exposure
The danger of exposure to agricultural chemicals is well known. Exposure to pesticides and herbicides has been implicated in all of the following health problems:
Neurological disorders: such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and personality changes
Reproductive disorders such as: birth defects (including oral clefts, neural tube defects, heart defects, and limb defects), stillbirth, miscarriage, and infertility
Child behavior disorders including: learning disabilities, mental retardation, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders
Adult and child cancers such as: soft tissue sarcomas, malignant tumors of the connective, lung cancer, and breast cancer
Immune system weakening and autoimmune disorders
Asthma and allergies
And there is much, much more
One of the most enduring benefits of organic gardening is that it completely eliminates this danger. There are no dangerous substances to store, eliminating the need to worry about accidental poisoning of your pets, children, or wildlife. There are no dangerous substances to mix, no contaminated containers, and no poisons on tools, gloves, or work benches. The real dangers of having a concentrated nerve toxin around the house are gone, as are the real worries associated with typical chemical gardening.
Five Benefits of Growing an Organic Garden
By Kat Yares
No matter where you go today, people are talking about organic foods. From the daily paper to the local super-center, organic is definitely in. No longer are organic fruits and vegetables just for the treehuggers or the old hippies; they have come into the mainstream diet with a bang. So what exactly are the benefits of growing an organic garden? Below, I’ve outlined five of the reasons why, if you have a garden, it should be organic.
Taste – While many organic fruits and vegetables will not have the uniform look of those you purchase in a super market, they will have superior taste. A virtual explosion of flavor that bears little resemblance to the taste of commercially raised produce. Nothing tastes better than fresh fruits or vegetables straight off the vine, tree, or plant. For fruits and veggies that don’t have to be cooked, they can be tasted right there in the garden.
Health – An organic garden is free from toxic chemicals, which means that the produce is free also. Your fruits and vegetables will not have a chemical residue, which if not washed off thoroughly, will enter your body. Organic produce has also been shown to have a higher vitamin and mineral content than those grown with the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. By planting your own organic garden, you are assuring yourself and your family the best possible fruits and vegetables. Plus, you have the added benefit of exercise; from planting the seeds to carrying in the harvest, working in your garden will help tone your body and work off extra calories.
Money – Planting your own organic vegetable garden will save you money. That is something we all want to do. Buying organic produce at farmers markets and health food stores can cost up to 50% or more over the regular supermarket. By growing your own, you save money at the store, and in these days of rising fuel costs, you won’t have to make as many trips for the perishables. Preserving the excess will enable you to make your garden last long into the winter months without have to purchase ‘green house’ vegetables from the store.
Spiritual – Ask any gardener, especially an organic gardener, what they think about while tilling the soil, planting seeds, or pulling weeds in their garden. You’ll probably get an answer similar to these: “it’s my time with my higher power,” “being in the garden brings me closer to nature” and “working in the soil and watching the garden grow makes me feel I am part of something larger” or “it’s meditative” and “my time of prayer.”
The Environment – Since organic gardeners use no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, none of these chemicals can run off and find their way into the water supply. Another benefit of this lack of chemical run-off is that small animals, birds, and beneficial insects are not harmed by chemical use. Because organic gardeners are continually building up their soil with organic matter, there is less erosion of topsoil leading to general erosion, which can impact an entire area. By putting organic waste into compost, you are helping relieve landfills since the waste would otherwise be taking up space there.
The benefits of organic gardening are many. I have only listed a few of the best. Your next step is learning to preserve the excess. By simple methods of freezing, drying and canning, you can literally enjoy the fruits of your labor on the coldest days of the winter. Even if you don’t have room for a large garden, or can only container garden, the use of organic gardening principles will reward you in many different ways, including having the best and healthiest produce.