We cannot believe we waited until #16 to discuss the healthy benefits of planting your own organic, edible garden. For us it has always seemed simple enough. It is not healthy for people or animals to eat edible plants sprayed with toxic chemicals or grown in soil that barely resembles dirt because it is so laden with synthetic fertilizers. As a result, for the past several years we have grown our edibles organically and have even reduced or eliminated our use of synthetic fertilizers and harsh pesticides/herbicides around the rest of our home.
Over time we have read and learned even more reasons why growing organic edibles is such a healthy practice. Think about how a plant defends itself from diseases and pests. Plants are armed with various phytonutrients to help them fend off such maladies. When you grow organically you help preserve the plants natural defenses. Consequently, when you eat those plants you are getting a nice dose of the healthy phytonutrients. The story is virtually the same for organic fertilizers because they allow the plant to get a full range of nutrients from the ground. Using synthetic fertilizers grows big plants, but are they healthier for us? Probably not and there is research out there to support this. Just do a quick internet search and you will likely find studies showing the decline in nutrients in our edible plants over the past 20-30 years.
Also, when you grow organically you do not have to handle as many toxic chemicals. Just spraying pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to you. We always cringe when we see the local man or woman spraying Roundup in their shorts and flip-flops. How much spray is getting on their skin? What is that spray doing to their bodies? Now, not all organic pesticides and herbicides are safe to get on your skin or in your body, so read labels very carefully and do your homework.
We are actually not fans of having to spray anything on our edible plants, but have used organic insecticidal soaps and hot pepper sprays. We made the hot pepper spray ourselves and it works great to protect or deter many insects and to keep away some critters. Our recipe is adapted from others we have read about, but they are all very simple to make. Mother Earth News has a great guide to organic pesticides. Some are DIY and others are purchased.
The folks at organic gardening magazine do a great job of summing up what it means to grow organically. Keep in mind they are not just focused on organic edibles, so not everything they write about is going to be related to organic edible gardening.