Nutrition Articles

Organic or Conventional Gardening: What's Better?

A List of Pros and Cons

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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.
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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

Member Comments

  • HASANAH814
    I've also heard that pesticides cause lower reproductive cells in humans (I think it was the same with animals.) - 2/4/2013 8:27:18 AM
  • Interesting article, but can we please stop using the word "chemical" as if chemicals are things made only in laboratories? Water is a chemical. Proteins are chemicals. Basically, any macroscale matter is composed of chemicals, but somehow the word only gets applied to things that are manufactured. It drives me nuts. - 6/2/2012 3:27:13 PM
  • I grow organic. - 6/2/2012 2:52:27 PM
  • I agree completely with SHIRE33! Over time, organic farming has been proven to produce higher yields with lower inputs than conventional farming.

    In fact, the Rodale Institute just published data from a 30 year side-by-side study that they began back in 1980, to examine similarities and differences between organic and conventional farming.

    Here is a fabulous article: http://www.natura
    lnews.com/033
    925_organic_f
    arming_crop_yields.html

    And here is the Rodale Study: http://www.rodale
    institute.org
    /files/FSTboo
    kletFINAL.pdf - 3/20/2012 3:51:45 PM
  • This article was pretty good. I am glad to see the citation for the science behind the claim of organic being of higher nutritional value. Growing organically does take more time and more labor, but as it says, if you like the work, then that's fine! More work you like!

    The only point I wanted to make was that yields OVER TIME will not be lower than conventionally grown produce. Once you get your garden established, over time, you are are creating healthier soil. Each year your yields will grow until they surpass conventional. The plants will also be much more likely to fight off disease and pests. Studies have shown that organically grown plants have better, well, for lack of a better term, "immune systems." They are less stressed. So just as you can fight off a cold better when you are well fed and well rested, so can plants fight off insect invasions and disease with less loss of production.

    In fact, some studies show that weaker plants actually attract insects, kind of nature's culling effect so the strongest survive. Another reason not to use petrochemical-bas
    ed herbicides/fungic
    ides/insectic
    ides! And if you start saving your own seeds, over time you'll develop strong, disease-resistant plants that are uniquely suited to your own microclimate.

    I like the Rodale Institute web page (google it) for a lot of up-to-date information about organic growing, both for growers and consumers. Sustainable, organic growing makes the most sense!
    - 11/17/2011 8:09:57 PM
  • ELLEJACOB76
    I practice organic vegetable gardening in my raised beds - I use organic fertilizers and tons of compost and my yields are higher than my neighbors who use big-box fertilizers. I am spreading out into my flowers this year as well, and hope to use cornmeal as a preemergent lawn fertilizer next spring. IF I can persuade my lawn care guy to give it a try. - 7/25/2011 12:46:55 PM
  • Since my son has Testicular Cancer, I've been buying organic food and I really plan to continue. Thanks for this article. - 5/27/2009 3:50:53 AM

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