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Organic or Conventional Gardening: What's Better?

A List of Pros and Cons
  -- By Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor
While we understand that the organic and conventional foods you buy at the store are grown differently, you might not realize that these same principles can apply to your own fruit, vegetable and flower gardening at home. There are a few key differences between organic and conventional gardening, mostly in their approaches to pest control, weed control, and fertilization. Outside those areas, the principal methods of growing food and flowers are identical.

A backyard gardener should not feel pressure to take an “all or nothing” approach to gardening techniques. Many people use a mix of organic and conventional methods to suit their time constraints, budget and priorities. Let’s cover some of the pros and cons of organic and conventional gardening techniques so that you can choose the methods that are right for you.

Organic Gardening
Organic gardening means growing and cultivating plants without any synthetic or chemical means of pest control, weeding, or fertilization; instead, organic gardeners use only natural methods (and old-fashioned manual labor) to care for their gardens. <pagebreak>

Pros of Organic Gardening
Cons of Organic Gardening
Conventional Gardening
Conventional gardening uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to enhance and control the growing environment. <pagebreak>

Pros of Conventional Gardening
Cons of Conventional Gardening
You don't have to go 100% organic or 100% conventional in your own garden—use the methods that work best for you and your priorities. You might compost but spray for pests, or perhaps you will deter pests naturally but fertilize your plants with a store-bought mixture. There is no right or wrong way to garden. Whichever methods you choose, gardening is a wonderful pursuit that allows you to enjoy the great outdoors, connect with nature, and grow some of the freshest, best tasting fruits and vegetables you'll ever try.

Selected Sources

Organic foods in relation to nutrition and health key facts from

Pesticides and Food: Health Problems Pesticides May Pose from

Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides from

Charlier G et al. 2003. Breast cancer and serum organochlorine residues. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 60 (5): 348 – 351.

Pets and Pesticide Use from the National Pesticide Information Center, an organization sponsored cooperatively by Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Virginia Worthington. 2001. Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 2001, 7(2): 161-173.