What does organic gardening mean? Does it mean what you think it means? Take this quiz and find out!
Question-organically grown produce is grown:
1. without the use of any pesticides
2. with only home made pesticides
3. using organically acceptable pesticides.
Answer-believe it or not, the correct response is number 3! Organic farmers use organically acceptable pesticides when farming. Organic farming does not mean without the use of pesticides.
Organic gardening avoids the use of synthetic pesticides. Organic pesticides are products certified with an OMRI label. OMRI (organic materials review institute) determines if a product qualifies as organic.
Does organic mean less toxic to people and wildlife? Not necessarily. Some organic pesticides can harm one or both. And yet, the idea that organic means “no pesticides” persists. If you are a concerned organic gardener wondering how to avoid harming wildlife, what should you do? The answer is: read the label. It will tell you how to protect yourself and wildlife.
Pyrethrin vs. Pyrethroid
Pyrethrins are pesticides made from certain chyrsanthemum flowers. Their chemical properties are used to kill ants, mosquitoes, flies and moths. However, pyrethrins are highly toxic to fish, other aquatic life, honey bees and other beneficial insects.
Pyrethroids are synthetically derived pesticides chemically similar to natural pyrethrins. Examples include bifenthrin, cypermethrin, esfenvalerate and deltamethrin. These pesticides are used to kill the same pests as pyrethrins and are also highly toxic to fish, other aquatic life, honey bees and other beneficial insects.
A major difference between the two types of pesticides is persistence. Persistence is the amount of time a pesticide lasts in the environment.
Pyrethrins break down quickly, while pyrethroids persist in the environment longer. Pyrethroids like bifenthrin (for ant control) are the most commonly found pesticide in our water supply. Water treatment plants do not break these chemicals down.
Pesticides can be a useful tool for gardeners. Many are less toxic to people, the environment and beneficial insects. If you’ve tried everything to get rid of aphids but it hasn’t worked, purchase an insecticidal soap or oil. Use it when honey bees and other beneficial insects aren’t present.
Find pesticides with less toxic active ingredients by reading the front of the label. Use borate for ant control, insecticidal soaps and oils for aphid and scale control and iron sulfate for snail control.
Read more about eco gardening methods under the category Eco Gardening on my website.